Mirko Vučinić’s performance for Juventus against Parma was well-received by the support from the home fans. As he was substituted by caretaker manager Massimo Carrera in a like-for-like substitution with Alessandro Matri with ten minutes to spare, he ejected the field with an expression of discontent, sullen faced, though many were satisfied by the sufficient work rate he had shown during the eighty minutes that he was on the pitch. Noted for an expeditious attitude in his style of play, with a graceful technical ability and sense of control on the ball, a strong negative towards the Montenegrin international however is his often poor attitude during games. And though there were prevalent glimpses of it peeking through in patches, the former AS Roma forward remained relatively calm as chances came and went for him, passes running astray, moves in-behind the defence being unfound and failing to beat opposition shot-stopper Antonio Mirante.
And as the applauding was deserved of the 28-year-old, an apprehensive attitude towards who will be Juventus’ forward signing still lingers with pertinacity. Manchester United had already of course signed their man in Robin Van Persie, a striker heavily linked with Juventus over the course of summer as a rumoured £12 million bid was turned down by the Gunners, being signalled as “too low”. Stevan Jovetić of Fiorentina, another largely linked, had his future with his current employers strongly established by Gigliati communications manager Gianfranco Teotino. He exclaimed “Jovetić will stay with us next season and the new team will be built around him to entertain the public.
“Montella has great enthusiasm and some innovative training methods. There is great confidence in our future and we want Stevan to be part of our project, and it is down to us to convince him to play at least one more season with us.” Fiorentina are indeed feeling the winds of change. Morale in recent seasons around the city of Florence has recessed, as performances by the club fell into somewhat mid-table mediocrity, as opposed to the heights of the UEFA Champions League a few seasons prior. Montella’s appointment in light of his successes at Catania made him a prime target to take over the suspended Delio Rossi, who attacked his own player during a game last season, and therefore was reprimanded as a result, and hoping to maintain key players as the squad enter a phase of reparation, and a restoration of pride where it has been lost. Jovetić is included.
Further down the list is Fernando Llorente, the Spain international whose future at San Mamés in Spain has come under threat and scrutiny. Only recently has his decision to depart from the club and show little desire of extending his contract, having less than twelve months to run, did the fans respond outlandishly and trash the club shop as retaliation to the news, effectively making the Pamplona-born Bilbao man an unpopular figure around the city of Bilbao. Juve had reportedly made a bid for the Spaniard, however it was turned down as the board of Athletic Club offered their towering forward a new contract reported to be worth in the region of €4.5 million. He rejected it, citing a desire to ‘seek new opportunities in the sport’, according to some media sources.
Direct rumours as to who Bianconeri have remained seemingly muted topic, but however that grew in volume during the first game of the season for the Serie A champions, who were looking to continue their unbeaten from the previous season and stretch it to thirty-nine games. As mentioned in the starting paragraph Vučinić’s presence on the field was recognised, however not enough to deliver the goals that were lacking in an average performance from the title holders. Antonio Conte’s ban for several months as a result of potentially match-fixing may well have affected the squad, as the team struggled to contain a pressing and determined Parma side that chased the ball in the majority of Juventus’ half principally, confronting defenders and putting them under pressure.
Even as Matri arrived onto the field, he was rather invisible, touching the ball a couple of times before attempting a shot, being blocked, and rolling out for a corner kick. Though it may be unfair to fully analyse a performance by Matri which only lasted roughly ten minutes, the lack of a reference point in the attack signified some of the issues needing to be rectified before transfer window’s end. Yes, there were other areas of the attack exercised, however the centre forward position was in and amongst the deluge of Parma’s three-man defence. Three have been listed, and ruled out, and desire for a fourth must be increasing now since the end of the transfer window is in five days.
Whilst Carrera will perhaps be content with the options up front, with Mirko Vučinić, Alessandro Matri, Fabio Quagliarella, a proven more-than-competent back-up if required and a young biding talent in 19-year-old Ghanaian striker Richmond Boayke. A further forward with a distinct, transparent residence inside the eighteen yard box would surely help carve out an equally successful league campaign as the last, as well as entering the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2009. They were eliminated at the group stage by Girondins Bordeaux of Ligue 1 and struggled considerably for a goal scorer. Amauri, David Tregezuet, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alessandro Del Piero combined found the net 33 times in 112 appearances, contributing to just under half of the team’s goals overall in the league season, and eventually finishing seventh, outside of the European competition places.
For some time Juventus have lacked a point of reference in their front line. Amauri’s move to the Italian giants in May 2008 for a sizeable sum of €22.8 million only saw the six foot one Brazilian striker net 17 goals in 71 appearances, before returning to Parma and going elsewhere. David Trezeguet, though prolific, became profligate with age, as did former Italy international Vincenzo Iaquinta.
And indeed the saying is “defences win you titles”, with that being the case last season as Conte’s men conceded just 20 goals last season, the best defensive record across five of the strongest leagues in the continent according to UEFA’s coefficients rankings, it is likewise in the front of the team. Injuries and absences are more than bound to occur this year, particularly since last year La Vecchia Signora were not tied down to the constrains of European football, there will be a need for strength in depth in all areas. One that perhaps lacks quality in depth is the attack. It is only up to Carrera and club officials as to whether they will pursue a characteristic no.9.