Much has changed in Serie A over the last 12 months. Claudio Ranieri is now regarded as an astute tactician, Fiorentina have gone from surprise Champions League success to mid-table obscurity and Sampdoria have done the opposite.
“See you next year…”
Some things however remain the same. Inter have marched to another Scudetto – although this one was actually contested – and their supposed main rivals, Milan and Juventus were way off the pace.
Last summer both clubs adopted the Barcelona approach, parodying the appointment of ‘Pep Guardiola with two “old boys” of their own, Leonardo and Ciro Ferrara. Both have left, in different circumstances, to leave the two clubs in an almost identical situation to 2009.
Delve a little deeper into the two clubs and you find vastly different organisations tackling yet another “re-birth” in hugely contrasting ways.
AC Milan are owned by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi who bought the club during the mid-1980’s when they were relegated to Serie B as part of a corruption investigation (sound familiar?). From there Berlusconi transformed the club using his vast wealth to create one of the best teams Europe has ever seen.
Those days, much like his natural hair, are long gone in the red half of Milan. Berlusconi now seems to only sign players either coming to the end of their careers (Beckham, Ronaldinho) or those discarded by others as not good enough (Huntelaar).
“A weave? ME? Never!”
The fact he is running the country and cannot be seen spending huge amounts of money on a football club during these harsh economic times is often sighted as a reason for this lack of investment. The new coach is expected to be either Filipo Galli (another ex-player) or current assistant Mauro Tassotti (do you really need to ask?).
Both are considered cheap options, and will sign for low wages. Any rebuilding of the squad is likely to be funded by the sale of Alex Pato, one of the one bright spots in a poor team.
Over in Turin the approach is radically different. A stock-exchange floated company, the board have appointed Andrea Agnelli as President. The 34 year old is the son of previous incumbent Umberto Agnelli and a nephew of the great Gianni Agnelli.
This return to Juve’s roots is seen as the first step in the revival of the Old Lady’s fortunes. Agnelli wasted little time in making this Juventus his own, appointing Sampdoria’s Sporting Director Beppe Marotta at the clubs annual meeting last Monday.
Andrea Agnelli: Keeping it in the family
Marotta is widely regarded as the best in the business, and brings a wealth of experience from a distinguished career. He also brings his Sampdoria coach, Luigi Del Neri with him in a move announced on Tuesday morning.
The pair secured Champions League football for their former employer last weekend, and doing the same in Turin will be the bare minimum requirement. Another overhaul of the playing staff will be required in order to suit the tactician’s preferred 4-4-2 system, and the futures of a number of big name stars will be in the balance.
That said, Agnelli has also made it clear the new regime has financial muscle, a transfer kitty of €80 million plus revenue raised from the expected sales of David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi and one or two others.
Once more then it’s all change at Milan and Juventus. It’s 2009 all over again, yet the paths each will take as they attempt to return to the summit of Italian football could not be more different. The results? See you in 2011…