It is officially ‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the year.
After watching Liverpool and Manchester United play out the bore draw to end all bore draws in the middle of a painfully cold January in which you’re not even allowed outside because COVID numbers have gone through the roof in recent months due to the Conservative government’s incompetence (and breathe), you can see why.
So what better way to ‘celebrate’ such a bloody grim day than to air some grievances, eh?
Football-related grievances to be exact.
Not about the Liverpool – Man Utd game (you can read about that game elsewhere on 90min) though, these grievances pertain to Juventus and their abysmal performance in the Derby d’Italia on Sunday evening.
La Vecchia Signora were, to put it bluntly, thumped by Inter at San Siro, and after such an abject performance the club are going to get a piece of my mind.
That’s right Juventus, I got a lot of problems with you people and now, you’re gonna hear about it.
Every single Juventini watching the Derby d’Italia was jealous of Inter having a midfielder like Nicolo Barella. A dynamic, creative midfielder who can drag his team upfield, cover for his defence when needed, and create chances at will.
And they were jealous because their club don’t have a player like that. They haven’t for five years (since Paul Pogba left).
But look, it’s not that they haven’t tried to find that creativity and dynamism.
They have…you know…sort of…with a million free transfers.
I mean, they’ve brought players to the club that they hoped would add some dynamism to their midfield, but almost exclusively on free transfers. And when you’re trying to replace a player who left the club for £89m with a player who cost £0, what do you expect? A miracle?
Sami Khedira had his moments, sure, but is/was/will always be injury prone, Aaron Ramsey is/was/will always be the same, Emre Can is/was/will always be immobile, and Adrien Rabiot is/was/will always be about as dynamic as a recycling bin.
It’s clear now – as it has been for five years – that Juventus need to invest in their midfield, and get rid of players like…
There were plenty of questions which arose from Juve’s Derby d’Italia defeat.
One was ‘how are Inter this much better than Juventus?’, another was ‘is it funny or depressing that Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci’s combined age is 69?‘, but the main was ‘is Adrien Rabiot the worst central midfielder in Juventus’ recent history?’
The answer to the latter is: yes, he probably is.
Which is saying something, because La Vecchia Signora rattled through a fair few no hopers in the late 2000s.
– Sergio Almiron: Horrifically bad, but he only played 10 games for Juve (45 less than Rabiot) so he was less actively detrimental.
– Antonio Nocerino: He picked up an obscene number of yellow cards in his one season at the club – 13 to be exact – but you know, at least he actually tried.
– Tiago Mendes: Underwhelming and once locked the club president in a toilet…but locking Giovanni Cobolli Gigli is really funny so he gets a pass.
– Christian Poulsen: Bomb scare of a midfielder but at least his mother/agent wasn’t a complete nightmare.
So yes, Rabiot really is the worst central midfielder in Juventus’ modern history.
Onto the next grievance.
While Alex Sandro remains one of the premier full-backs in FUT (he’s 85-rated), he hasn’t been very good in real life for a very, very, very long time.
Honestly really struggling to remember the last time he actually played well.
It may have been during his second season at Juventus which was *checks notes* five seasons ago. That ain’t good.
Sandro’s poor form, coupled with the fact that his only competition is a six-year-old called Gianluca Fabrotta, makes Juve’s left-back options rather, well, depressing.
Four or five years ago the centre back pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci was arguably the best in the world.
Now though? Not so much.
It was painfully apparent while watching Romelu Lukaku bully the pair at San Siro that time and injuries (in Chiellini’s case) have just caught up with them.
Antonio Conte earns 7.5x more than Andrea Pirlo, and judging by the Derby d’Italia, that is absolutely fair enough.
We don’t mean to go in too two-footed on Pirlo – this is his first managerial job, and it’s a bloody difficult one – but he did get his team selection wrong on Sunday.
Playing a child at left-back and then a CM in front of him who, although he started at LM, was clearly told to tuck in and provide an extra body in midfield, was never going to work against a team who rely heavily on the creativity of their RWB Achraf Hakimi. It was naive mistake from a manager who probably isn’t ready for a job as big as the Juventus one.
But then, what did Juventus expect when they hired a manager who you value, monetarily, less than 19 of the club’s senior players?
Like the midfield problem, Juve have gone at their coaching problem with next to no funds and expected everything to just, you know, work out.
It hasn’t so far, and it probably won’t anytime soon.
Right, we’re going to try something. We’re going to take Juventus’ squad and try and build a balanced XI out of it.
‘Yes, this’ll be easy.’
Ok here’s the senior squad:
Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczęsny, Gianluigi Buffon, Carlo Pinsoglio.
Defenders: Juan Cuadrado, Danilo, Matthijs de Ligt, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Merih Demiral, Alex Sandro, Gianluca Frabotta.
Midfielders: Arthur, Aaron Ramsey, Weston McKennie, Federico Chiesa, Adrien Rabiot, Rodrigo Bentancur, Federico Bernardeschi.
Forwards: Dejan Kulusevski, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Alavaro Morata.
‘Ok, big Woj in goal…’
Can’t argue with that.
‘…Then Cuardrado, De Ligt, Bonucci and Alex Sandro…’
‘Hmmm maybe not…what about Frabrotta?’
Did Sunday’s game convince you he should be starting for Juventus?
‘No…ummm…not really…we’ll come back to left-back.’
‘Ok…midfield…mid…field…ummm…McKennie and…ummm…some other people…we’ll come back to the midfield.’
Right, what about attack then?
‘Ronaldo is a cert, Morata is playing really well too…and Dybala is Dybala.’
How do they all fit together?
He’s terrible out right.
‘Yeah…I don’t know I give up.’
They’re just so goddam UGLY!!!
ALL OF THEM!!!
ALL OF THE KITS ARE UGLY!!!
ADIDAS, GET A GRIP!!!!
Let’s call a spade a spade:
Inter and AC Milan are better than Juventus right now.
Both Milan clubs have better players.
Both Milan clubs have better managers.
Both Milan clubs have nicer kits.
They’re both just better.
Alright, alright, alright, calm down Cristiano Ronaldo fanboys. We’re not saying your beloved CR7 isn’t a great player – he clearly is.
All we’re saying is that there’s a legitimate argument to be made that Cristiano Ronaldo’s *ahem* €31m a year salary (after tax – no seriously, after tax) is the reason for a lot of the grievances above.
As, in layman’s terms, Juventus would have a lot more money to spend on their midfield, replacing Alex Sandro, hiring a top-tier manager etc. had they not committed around €225m to one player. Bloomberg‘s report that the club are sieving money while Ronaldo is at the club and, therefore, need to be ‘disciplined’ when trying to sign new players backs that point up.
Obviously Ronaldo is a world class player, but financially the deal to bring CR7 to Turin – thanks in no small part to COVID – hasn’t worked out as intended. And, honestly, footballing wise it hasn’t really really worked out either.
Ronaldo still gets his numbers, but the reason he was signed by Juventus was to win the UEFA Champions League and can you honestly see that happening any time soon?