It’s been a long, tough season for Juventus and manager Andrea Pirlo this season but it’s finally all over for them.
It’s been pretty poor from them throughout the season, but a 4-1 win on the final day of the season meant that they just about secured qualification for Europe’s elite club competition when Napoli failed to beat Verona.
But that win came despite Pirlo dropping Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting lineup, despite him being completely fit for the game. That in itself offered up a lot of questions in the media about the player’s future, but also the manager’s after a very underwhelming season.
Despite just about qualifying for the Champions League, it’s impossible to think that Pirlo hasn’t underachieved. After winning the league for the previous nine seasons, finishing fourth and heading into the final day with their fate not even in their own hands is simply not good enough.
He was able to win silverware though, winning the Coppa Italia thanks to a 2-0 win over Atalanta in the final, but overall you’d be hard pressed to find a Juventus fan content with how the season has gone. Especially if you consider the fact that Maurizio Sarri was sacked despite winning the league due to his style.
Pirlo’s side play uninspiring, dull football and really failed to get the best out of a large section of the squad. He should be praised for the form of Federico Chiesa, Juan Cuadrado, Matthijs De Ligt and even Ronaldo himself, who was Serie A’s top scorer this season, but the decision to often play a rigid 4-4-2 system is certainly questionable.
Add to that the fact the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Paulo Dybala and Alex Sandro have really struggled under him, Juventus could look to move him on a year early in his contract and try to bring in someone better to oversee the rebuild they need.
The biggest question of the rebuild will undoubtedly circle around the future of the legendary Portuguese attacker. At 36 years old, it’s fair to say Ronaldo isn’t quite the player he once was. Despite that though, he has been Juventus’ top scorer every year since joining the club and won the Serie A golden boot this season with 29 league goals in 33 appearances and 36 goals in 44 games in all competitions.
Despite his phenomenal numbers, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that having Ronaldo in your team takes away from the numbers that your other attacking players can put up. For example, Karim Benzema has scored 30, 27 and 30 goals in the three seasons since Ronaldo left Real Madrid. In the nine seasons they spent together, he only bettered 27 once and only bettered 30 once.
Dybala managed to score 26 times in the season before Ronaldo joined Turin, but since his arrival he’s registered just 32 in the three seasons combined.
Ronaldo is currently on around €60m per-season and is entering the final year of his contract, but the chances of another club stepping in to try and sign him this summer is so, so low. His wages are insane and it’s unlikely that a club so desperate for the European Super League because of their financial situation is likely to be able to just pay him off.
It’s hard to see Pirlo and Ronaldo both being at the club at the start of next season and if I had to bet money on one of them leaving it would be Pirlo. But something tells me that Juventus may see next year as another write off campaign.
Focus on securing a better season, then the following season start over without Pirlo and without the huge burden of Ronaldo in the team for the new manager to work with and build from.
It’s certainly a situation to keep an eye on, and one that no matter what way it goes won’t totally be a surprise.