I have always liked Eusebio Di Francesco as a manager. He was not afraid of fielding youngsters and played in an attractive attacking style. The only criticism I have of him is that his teams were not known to defend well. He didn’t find the right balance and as a result, got the sack after Roma’s elimination from the Champions League.
I would hope that he will use this experience to better himself as a manager and come back stronger. Italian football needs more managers like him that are brave to have faith in youngsters and plays with an attacking philosophy.
The expectations and pressure are always huge at every big Italian club. One might argue that it is a real pressure cooker situation when dealing with Roman clubs. Besides Juventus, like most other big Italian clubs, Roma has to constantly balance their books to avoid falling foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP).
As a result, every season, Roma have had to cash in on their biggest names to then re-invest into the squad. This method is not conducive if you are building a team to win major trophies due to the constant upheavals. Roma then took the brave step of placing their faith in youngsters. Results have been mixed this season.
It would be great for Italian football had it worked out. However, with youngsters, it is not possible to expect constant high-level performances until the players mature. Players mature from playing more so they can’t be marginalized until they reach maturity in terms of age.
This constant pressure to achieve success quickly makes it very tough for managers to place their faith in youngsters in big clubs. As a result, in most clubs, young players will be found on the benches waiting to get a run out in a game or get a game to play in every once in a while.
What I genuinely hope for in Italian football is for a club to dominate the league by coming forward to play attacking football and not be afraid to let youngsters play. There are more teams that play attacking football now but Juventus constantly dominates by playing less well.
Juventus relies a lot on defensive solidity, mental toughness, and resilience to win games and titles. For all their domination in Italian football, they always come up short in Europe. This season, they find themselves a whopping 16 points clear at the top in Serie A. In Europe though, they face the real possibility of getting eliminated after a first leg defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Massimiliano Allegri is playing down the possible elimination from the Champions League. He has to do so to take the pressure off his team. However, they cannot escape the fact that if they don’t progress further, it will be a season of utmost disappointment. They might win the Scudetto by 30 points but it is the Champions League that they really want to win.
They signed Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer with the sole purpose of winning the Champions League. Imagine how Ronaldo will feel after a season of progression in Serie A and not going deep in the Champions League. It is an embarrassment to the rest of the Serie A that they have allowed Juventus to dominate like this.
It is tough for the big Serie A clubs to compete as they constantly need to balance their books. Most of the big clubs have transferred to foreign ownership but they are still riddled with debts. As a result, most of these clubs can’t properly build due to constant changes in players and managers.
They tend to lose their best players so that they can use the cash gained from the coup to re-invest into the squad and reduce their debt. These clubs will also look for short-term loan options for a season. If these loanees do well, they cannot be bought outright because the club has to prioritize on who to sign.
Gone are the days where the owners would just splash the cash to sign the biggest names to form these mega teams making Serie A the strongest league in the world. Juventus have the stability of not having to comply with FFP and a stadium of their own. They can just focus on building their team to get stronger, season after season. They do sell on their biggest names but out of choice rather than necessity.
There are teams that come close to challenging Juventus by playing better football than them. These clubs capitulate when the push comes to shove due to lack of mental toughness and consistency. They can’t find the grit to grind out results when the form goes down or when they get a few injuries in their squad.
Every season, Serie A fans get this constant reminder that the league is not what it was. Serie A clubs are no longer feared in Europe and treated almost like underdogs except Juventus. This has been going on for so many seasons now. We hope that someday soon, things will change but nobody really knows when it will change.