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Under new management: Max Allegri

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Background, coaching style, analysis, and likelihood of the Italian becoming the next Arsenal manager.

FC Crotone v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Massimiliano “Max” Allegri

Age: 50
Nationality: Italian
Current Position: Manager of Juventus Football Club

Background

Allegri began his managerial career when he took over Calico C2 Team Aglianese. After 32 appearances and 8 goals as a senior player, Allegri moved to manager on July 1st, 2003.

Allegri had 4 head coaching roles with 3 teams (Aglianese, SPAL, and Grosseto) to begin his career from July 2003 to October 2006. Following a 7-14-7 record in 2 coaching stints with Grosseto, Allegri was sacked in 2006. His record over the 4 years with those clubs was mundane at best, at 24-27-18 per Transfermarkt.com.

At the start of the 2007/08 season, Allegri became manager of Calcio C1 team Sassuolo and started his road to his current job in Turin. At the end of the 2007/08 Sassuolo were confirmed champions of the C1 League and were promoted to the Serie B for the first time in their history. They boasted a record of 20-6-10 during their promotion run. However, Allegri’s time with Sassuolo would come to an end following their promotion, when he was announced as the head coach of Cagliari in the Italian first division. 73 games (26-15-32) later he was surprisingly relieved of his duties despite a decent 12th place finish in the Calcio A. Following the sacking, Allegri agreed to join AC Milan as their new head coach.

Allegri did not waste any time making a name for himself in Milan, leading the Rossoneri to their first League Title in 6 years in the 2010/11 season. While the Scudetto had been recaptured, Milan went out of the Champions League and Coppa Italia in shambolic fashion with a loss to Tottenham (ugh) and Palermo respectively. Allegri coached Milan in 178 games. He captured the 2011/12 Supercoppa Italiana against rivals Inter as his last trophy with the team. He finished his time at the San Siro with a record on 91-49-38. He was sacked at the end of the 2013/14 season after a loss to his old club, Sassuolo 4-3. At the time of his firing, Milan were in 11th place and 30 points behind leaders Juventus. Just a mere 6 points from the relegation zone.

Allegri was hired by Juventus in the 2014/15 season. He has been rampant in his time with the Old Lady. 154-33-30 and an average points per match of 2.28 has led the Italian coach to 3 consecutive doubles. A 4th double is looming and can be snatched this weekend after beating Milan 2-1 in the Coppa Italia final last night. His team is averaging 1.99 goals/match and only averaging conceding .75/match.

Juventus have made 2 Champions League finals since his appointment in 4 appearances under Allegri. In 8 Champions League seasons, Allegri has never failed to reach the knockout round with AC Milan or Juventus.

Trophy Cabinet:

4x Serie/Calcio A Champions (Milan, Juventus)

4x Italian Cup Winner (Juventus)

2x Supercoppa Italiana (Milan, Juventus)

1x Italian C1 League (Sassuolo)

Coaching Style/Projected Formation

I will summarize his coaching philosophy below, but our Juventus counterparts over at Black & White & Read All Over did one hell of a job describing Allegri’s transition to a 4-2-3-1 system at Juventus. If you want to read an in-depth tactics based-article with GIFS, Diagrams, etc. you can read it here.

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1/4-4-2

On the offensive side of the ball, a big thing for Allegri is the inverted winger. In this inverted winger position, a big and physical presence (Mandzukic) or a skillful centre-forward (Dybala) is place behind the striker (usually Higuain) and does little in respect to a winger’s traditional role. From the tactics article I referenced above “Mandzukic is doing the stuff he does best — be physical and back-to-the-defender type of central forward/striker… because of his defensive position as the left wing, he is often found in the left flank area once Juventus makes the defensive-to-offensive transition.” The parallels to Aubameyang and Lacazette are uncanny, but more on that below.

There is a common use of the wing-backs as well in Allegri’s formation. Asamoah, Lichtsteiner, Sandro, De Sciglio are commonly apart of the offensive play. Just ask Tottenham how defending Lichtsteiner’s cross went on this goal. With a larger inverted winger and a traditional striker, the aerial threat is a large mismatch on Juventus’ opposition.

His approach to the midfield relies heavily on a defensive-minded playmaker. Currently, Allegri can rely on Khedira, Matuidi, Pjanic, etc. to work well in a box-to-box role, but Arsenal are lacking a versatile midfielder that compares to those on Juventus. This would need to be a focus in the transfer market.

Projected formation: 4-2-3-1

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka*, Ramsey; Aubameyang, Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette

*Hopefully not.

Analysis

It seems to be a consensus among the Arsenal fan-base that we need to begin our rebuilding process. This means that we find a core group of players to hold onto, and that hard decisions about selling players needs to be made by the incoming manager. Arsenal will look to a coach that has had a lot of experience replacing old talent with new names.

Well, Max Allegri maybe a good choice then.

Allegri has been part of rebuilding processes at both Milan and Juventus. While no one would argue that the teams he inherited were well built, there were a lot of changes both in Milan and Turin. Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi implemented a cost-cutting initiative (sound familiar?) which gave way to huge names Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Nesta, Seedorf, Gattuso, Zambrota, and Inzaghi. At Juventus, he has had to cope with the loss of players like Tevez, Vidal, Pirlo, Morata, Bonucci, Alves, and another one I won’t mention by name. Although many names on that list of departures are world class players, Juventus was cohesive in change. Allegri’s trophy cabinet speaks for itself during his time in Turin.

Tactically, he fits Arsenal well too. Juventus have posted the best defensive record in the Italian League the last 4 seasons. Arsenal are 9th in the Premier League in goals against (48) and have let in 22 more than Manchester City. A defensive revolution is needed at Arsenal, exactly the same way Allegri did it at Juventus. His use of the right and left-backs is good news for Arsenal’s already attacking-minded players like Bellerin and Monreal, but Allegri will also look to put a larger emphasis on their defensive duties.

In terms of offensive tactics, Allegri plays with a faux two striker formation with Dybala and Higuain (sometimes Mandzukic rotates in). With the success we have seen from Lacazette and Aubameyang in the same team, we know a coach that can fit two strikers into a team is pivotal to scoring goals.

Sadly, his use of the middle third of the pitch may also mean that Jack Wilshere may not fit in well with Allegri’s tactical approach. As a smaller, more attacking central-midfielder Jack would not really fit in the 2 defensive midfield roles or in the 4 at the top of the formation. It would be interesting to see what Allegri would do if Wilshere did indeed end up at Arsenal next season.

If Allegri is to move jobs, he will have the same shell of a team that he currently uses at Juventus.

Likelihood

Allegri’s time at Juventus may have gotten a bit stale, with so much success domestically but such heartbreak in Europe, Allegri could be looking for a new role. Arsenal’s team maybe a breath of fresh air for the Italian coach and the team translates (somewhat) well to his current one at Juventus. However, the work would just be beginning for Max if he moves to the Premier League. This means leaving a position with a lot of job security and success for one that entails a lot of hard work.

That being said, it seems like the shortlist does not involve his name. There is still a chance, more will be known in the coming week.

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