If there’s any consolation for Neil Lennon and Celtic this week, it’s this: 10IAR is hard to do, ask Juventus.
The Old Lady stuttered to a defeat against Serie A title rivals Inter at the weekend (Football Italia). Goals from former Juve hero Arturo Vidal and Nicolò Barella, from an outstanding Bastoni assist, were enough for Conte’s Inter. There was plenty of intrigue, with a former Juve manager and architect of the club’s earlier titles in the opposition dugout.
Anyone interested in Serie A wouldn’t have bet against Juventus this season. Yet, for whatever reason, they’ve crumbled under pressure. Arguably, their collapse is more egregious than ours; Juve sit 5th in Serie A (Sky Sports).
The 9IAR champions gambled on an inexperienced manager, in the form of Juve playing legend Andrea Pirlo. Like Neil Lennon, the complaints have been about formational tinkering and lack of leadership (Daily Mail).
Pirlo simply can’t decide on his best XI, or how to set them up. His early attempts to integrate youngsters into the side have disappeared, with reliance on experienced heads who aren’t delivering.
Equally, indiscipline has cost the club, with daft, rash red cards. Perhaps even more eerily, a Celtic problem haunts Juve, too; if you counter against Pirlo’s side, massive holes appear in their defence (Black and White and Read All Over).
Juve, in many respects, have gambled on, in large part, the same group of players from seasons prior to get them over the hump and secure that famous ten. However, they’re far worse off than they are last season. The typically calm and assured Pirlo has become agitated as a manager, blaming the mentality and culture of the players after big losses (Sun).
It all sounds incredibly familiar.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon can find solidarity in Juventus and Italy
It must feel incredibly lonely for Neil Lennon just now. It’s clear that the enormous pressure is getting to him, as you’d expect it to.
We’re not sure how good the Lurgan man’s Italian is, but you feel he could maybe find some solace on the phone with Andrea Pirlo.
Of course, there are huge, huge differences. For one thing, Juventus have Cristiano Ronaldo. Their squad is worth nearly £622m (Transfermarkt). The Bhoys’, since you’re asking? £90m by Transfermarkt’s reckoning, but that’s significantly bumped by our loan signings.
So yes, obviously the scenarios aren’t exactly the same. However, pressure, expectation and stress are a universal language. Where nobody could’ve predicted how good A.C. Milan would be this season, see also Gerrard’s Rangers. That’s a check in the similarities column.
A dynastic board picking a less experienced, former club player as manager? Check. An imbalanced squad with huge disparity in age ranges? Check. A coach who isn’t sure what set-up best suits his team, and is running out of opportunities to find out? You guessed it: check.
The similarities binding Celtic and Juventus may not seem hugely significant now. But when football historians look back on 20-21, they’ll notice two huge clubs battling for landmark achievements in the same year, under similar circumstances, who fell just short.
So, perhaps our beleaguered manager can take some solace from the fact that around Europe, there are clubs collapsing even worse than Celtic. Fine, it doesn’t help us much, but perhaps it softens the blow to know that 10IAR is an albatross around the neck of even the most expensively-assembled squads in European football.
Just a thought.