Yet another failed Champions League campaign and a weak defence of their Serie A title is not the season the Juventus hierarchy would have been hoping for.
Andrea Pirlo’s maiden campaign as manager of the Old Lady has been something of a nightmare by the club’s high standards, with various reports suggesting he faces the boot if his side fail to finish the season strongly.
There’s still plenty to play for between now and the end of the season – with Champions League football still to be secured and the Coppa Italia final to come – and Juve are understood to have pinpointed five games in the club’s run-in as being crucial in their assessment of whether Pirlo will be afforded more time in the role.
A three-man shortlist has already been drawn up should Pirlo’s stint at the helm of I Bianconeri be curtailed, with Gian Piero Gasperini, Luciano Spalletti and Simone Inzaghi all in the running.
But who should they turn to? 90min have assessed the qualities and pitfalls of each of the three managers before deciding who we think is best suited to the job.
A quick glance at Atalanta’s progression over the past five years tells you everything you need to know about the managerial ability of Gian Piero Gasperini.
However, there’s a very large caveat to that statement.
Sometimes when a manager is appointed at a football club, you just get the sense that it’s going to work. It just feels like a good match and that the new man at the helm is a perfect fit for his new team – we really don’t get that with Gasperini and Juve.
The veteran tactician seems better suited to a team full of aspiring underdogs and his success with Atalanta is testament to that.
His shot at the big time with Inter back in 2011 lasted all of three months and he clearly struggled to manage the club’s big-name players.
That being said, Gasperini’s tactical nous is superb and his teams play possession based, quick, pressing, attractive football. He’s willing to give youth a chance and has an eye for fitting players into new positions – a facet of his management which would be a great deal of help to Juve right now.
Effectively, he seems to have the qualities needed, but it just doesn’t quite feel right, and his lack of experience with an elite club could prove to be his downfall if he’s afforded the chance.
With so many high earners currently on the Juve payroll, the club are going to need a ruthless manager who isn’t afraid to make unpopular decisions – Luciano Spalletti is exactly that.
The former Roma boss’ second spell with I Giallorossi will forever be remembered for his treatment of club sweetheart Francesco Totti, with the legendary midfielder dropped to the bench soon after Spalletti’s appointment – a decision which unsurprisingly did not go down well with fans and the media.
The Italian is tactically flexible – something which will be sorely needed of any new Juve boss – and has managed at a high level.
However, the cons of opting for Spalletti probably outweigh the pros. As an ex Inter boss his appointment is likely to cause uproar among fans and his recent stints in management have done little to suggest he’s still the manager we saw at Roma 15 years ago.
His trophy cabinet is hardly stacked and it would be a shock if Juve did turn to him.
The final man on the reported three-man shortlist is current Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.
While he’s done a great job since being appointed I Biancocelesti boss back in 2016, question marks have been raised over his inability to divert from his trusted 3-5-2 formation, and a lack of experience at the top level could see him struggle for authority at a club like Juventus.
Lazio aren’t a particularly possession based side – something he’d need to adapt to if he did get the Juve job – and his side’s over-reliance on Ciro Immobile has been evident throughout his time at the helm.
However, his overachievements with such a small squad is a huge tick in the box for Inzaghi, as Juventus will undoubtedly be forced to trim their squad this summer.
His development of individuals within the squad has been a key factor to Lazio’s recent progression and the club have long punched above their weight on such a tight budget – something Juventus may again be forced to experience themselves.
There’s pros and cons for all involved, but Simone Inzaghi is absolutely the top candidate for the job.
The main issue Juventus would have in appointing Inzaghi would revolve around experience, and that’s something he can only put right by being given the chance. After all, he had no experience of senior management when he was given a chance at Lazio and he’s done a great job there.
Inzaghi is the brightest managerial prospect in Italy right now and he’s proven himself worthy of a shot at an elite club.