Juventus appoint Pirlo: Returning heroes - the hits and misses

By Sports Desk August 08, 2020

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Related items

  • Diego Maradona dies: When Argentina's erratic genius overstepped the line Diego Maradona dies: When Argentina's erratic genius overstepped the line

    Diego Maradona was a majestic footballer who was idolised by millions worldwide, but the Argentina great was not the best role model off the pitch.

    His death at the age of 60 on Wednesday led to an outpouring of grief from within sport and beyond.

    The 1986 World Cup winner is revered in his homeland, where thousands queued to file past his coffin on Thursday morning, as well as in Italy, where he played arguably the best football of his career for Napoli.

    Maradona also battled major drug and alcohol problems, once shot at journalists, had a turbulent private life and took a swipe at Pope John Paul II.

    Those episodes all form part of the legend and the bigger picture when it comes to remembering the most talented player of his generation.

    DRUGS DON'T WORK

    Maradona was said to have first dabbled in drugs in the mid-1980s, and cocaine began to play a big part in his career. In Naples, a city where chaos plays a big part in the daily life of many, Maradona lived on the edge, risking his health with the Class A drug while attempting to still produce on the pitch.

    His form began to fall away, and comeuppance came with a 15-month drugs ban imposed in 1991, before Maradona moved to Sevilla.

    A seemingly resurgent Maradona was sent home from the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for a banned stimulant, and drugs continued to be a problem for Argentina's favourite son after he retired from playing. He later claimed to have given up drugs in 2004, following serious heart problems that led him to spend time in intensive care.

    GUN DRAMA

    Maradona was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of two years and 10 months in 1998, four years on from an incident that saw him shoot at journalists with an air rifle.

    The February 1994 episode occurred outside his Buenos Aires home, and it was reported that four people were injured.

    Footage showed Maradona perched behind a Mercedes car, pointing the gun.

    TAXING TIMES

    He claimed to have been "treated like the worst criminal" by Italian authorities that were pursuing him for allegedly unpaid taxes.

    Speaking in 2016, Maradona told the Corriere della Sera newspaper: "I don't owe anything. They have been hounding me unfairly over the last 25 years for €40million with €35million in fines for an alleged tax violation that every single judge has ruled did not exist."

    Maradona added, according to ESPN, that he had been singled out as the only footballer to have jewellery and watches taken away by authorities.

    HOW WOULD HE MANAGE?

    Putting Maradona in charge of the Argentina national team looked like a dicey move, and his two-year reign effectively ended with a 4-0 defeat to Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.

    Argentina had been in danger of missing out on the tournament but won their last two qualifying matches to scrape into the finals.

    Maradona was predictably elated with qualification, proving his doubters wrong, and ran into trouble when he told reporters to "suck it and keep on sucking it".

    FIFA imposed a two-month ban for the lewd outburst, with Maradona apologising for his comments.

    CEILING A DEAL WITH THE POPE

    By the late 1980s, Maradona was arguably the world's most celebrated sports star.

    Such celebrity status opens doors, and he met with Pope John Paul II.

    Maradona told a story in his autobiography, I Am Diego, of how he took issue with the pontiff's concern for poverty-stricken children, given the luxury set-up at the Vatican.

    He wrote: "Yes, I did argue with the Pope. I argued with him because I've been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the Pope saying that the Church was concerned about poor kids. So? Sell the ceilings, mate! Do something!"

    HAND OF GOD

    From the Pope, to the Hand of God.

    Maradona's status in England will forever be tainted by his controversial opening goal for Argentina against Bobby Robson's team in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final.

    By punching the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who has not forgiven Maradona, the mercurial captain of Los Albiceleste became an instant hate figure for English supporters.

    Maradona claimed it was God's hand that helped Argentina past their rivals at the Stadio Azteca, a step nearer their eventual triumph and his finest moment in the game.

  • Coronavirus: Premier League clubs set to welcome fans as restrictions eased Coronavirus: Premier League clubs set to welcome fans as restrictions eased

    Fans will be able to return to up to half of the Premier League's grounds after new coronavirus measures were announced.

    The United Kingdom government confirmed on Thursday the national lockdown in England would end on December 2, with regional restrictions in place thereafter.

    While no areas hosting top-flight clubs were included in the most relaxed Tier 1, several fell into Tier 2, meaning up to 2,000 supporters would be allowed to attend games.

    The 10 Premier League clubs who will be able to welcome fans under the new rules are London sides Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Fulham, as well as Liverpool, Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton.

    That leaves the other half of the division still forced to play home games behind closed doors, including Manchester United and rivals City.

    It means the December 4-7 round of top-flight fixtures should see the return of supporters, with games including the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal coming up.

    Numerous Football League clubs will also be able host fans once again, with matches scheduled in all three divisions next Wednesday.

  • Diego Maradona dies: Fans parade past coffin as Buenos Aires reels from Argentina great's demise Diego Maradona dies: Fans parade past coffin as Buenos Aires reels from Argentina great's demise

    Argentinians queued through the night before saying a last farewell to Diego Maradona as the superstar's body lay in state in Buenos Aires.

    The Casa Rosada, which is the presidential mansion in the heart of Argentina's capital, has been given over as the focal point of mourning as the country reels from the loss of the 1986 World Cup-winning captain.

    Maradona, who starred in Europe with Barcelona and Napoli, died on Wednesday of natural causes. He recently underwent brain surgery, after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

    As large numbers joined the line at the Plaza de Mayo square, the first in line were allowed to enter the building at 06:00 local time (09:00GMT). The wake was due to last for 10 hours.

    The newspaper La Nacion reported pushing and running amid the clamour, with admirers of Maradona, many wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, eager to be among the first to file past his body.

    It said Maradona would be buried at the Jardines de Bella Vista cemetery, which is reportedly where his parents were laid to rest.

    According to the newspaper, relatives of Maradona and footballers including Carlos Tevez and Martin Palermo, along with former team-mates of Maradona, had already paid their respects in person before the mansion was opened to the public.

    Maradona's body lay in a wooden coffin, with a flag of Argentina on top, together with a shirt of the national team and one of Boca Juniors, the club he played for in two separate spells.

    Many of those who entered the building blew kisses and applauded, with some throwing shirts towards the coffin.

    Television coverage showed those who stopped for more than a couple of seconds being moved on by security staff.

    Argentina's president Alberto Fernandez said of Maradona: "Diego was Argentina in the world, he filled us with joy and we will never be able to pay him so much joy.

    "The best thing about Diego is that he was an absolutely genuine man, he was not a fake man, he was a genuine man who expressed everything with the force with which he played football, defended what he wanted, mistreated what he hated. That was Maradona in its purest form."

    It was from the balcony of the Casa Rosada that Maradona celebrated Argentina's World Cup triumph with the people of the country.

    Elsewhere in the city on Thursday, banners declaring thanks for the career of Maradona hung from buildings, and video screens showed highlights of his playing career.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.