By Terry Daley
Massimiliano Allegri knows he will have to bring European success to Juventus if he is to win over fans after replacing the much-loved Antonio Conte as the Italian champions’ coach.
Conte resigned on Tuesday after three years at the helm during which he won a hat-trick of league titles and re-established the Old Lady as the pre-eminent force in Italian football.
However, he failed to translate that local dominance into European triumphs, with Juve’s best under Conte being a place in the Champions League quarter-finals where they were brushed aside 4-0 on aggregate by eventual winners Bayern Munich.
Last year they crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage, before being beaten by Benfica in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
“There is definitely a need to do better in the Champions League. The club is looking to strengthen the team in Italy but above all in Europe,” Allegri told a media conference.
“In Europe there are great clubs that earn more money than us, but we have the duty to have a good Champions League campaign because I believe that Juve should be in the top eight of European football.”
Juve fans are unhappy about Conte’s departure or the hiring of Allegri, creating the #NoAllegri hashtag on Twitter to show the club their displeasure at their new coach. It quickly started trending worldwide.
Allegri was sacked by AC Milan midway through last season after a dreadful start that left them languishing in mid-table and was replaced by Clarence Seedorf in January after more than a year of speculation surrounding his position.
However, he won the Serie A title in 2011 with Milan and they finished four points behind Conte’s undefeated Juventus the following year.
The next season, Allegri had to deal with the sale of Brazil defender Thiago Silva and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the club tightened the purse strings, but Milan managed third place and a spot in the Champions League.
“It’s normal that there’s a reaction from the fans. Conte represented more than just the last three years, he represents a lot for Juve as a player as well,” Allegri said.
“How can I win them over? With results, hard work and respect and professionalism. I know how important it is to coach Juve, I was Milan’s trainer for four years and that makes me ready to continue their winning run.”
Marotta said Conte leaving had nothing to do with clashes over transfer policy, after reports that Juventus were willing to sell top midfielders Paul Pogba of France and Arturo Vidal, insisting that the Chilean was not for sale.
Conte meanwhile has emerged as favorite to take over the vacant Italian national team manager’s job
The managerial merry-go-round has seen Conte emerge as a front-runner to succeed Cesare Prandelli as Italian national manager, after Prandelli’s post-World Cup resignation and subsequent appointment in charge of Turkish side Galatasary.
After winning the title last season, Conte, speaking in the third person, said: “If Antonio decides to take another path, then he will do so with the greatest respect for the club and the players.”
In other news, Germany midfielder Toni Kroos has signed a six-year deal to join Real Madrid from Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga club confirmed on Thursday.
The 24-year-old was instrumental in Germany’s World Cup-winning campaign that culminated in a 1-0 final victory over Argentina on Sunday and moves to the Bernabeu for a fee believed to be in the region of 25 million euros .
Kroos is Real’s first signing ahead of the new season and he could well take over set-piece duties from Xabi Alonso. His arrival could also lead to the departure of Germany team mate Sami Khedira, who has been linked with a move to England.
“We are grateful to Toni Kroos for his time in Munich,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club website (www.fcbayern.de).
“Together we had great achievements here and we wish he and his family all the best in Madrid with Real.”