Why does the football world continue to disrespect Massimiliano Allegri?
One hears the same names whenever the “best managers in the world” conversation revives. Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jupp Heynckes, Tite, Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp. Those and others all seem to spring to mind before Massimiliano Allegri.
Looking solely at his achievements, one has to wonder how he is not among the first mentioned? His career began slowly, it's true. After several years managing lower sides like Grosseto and Sassuolo, Allegri at last made the jump to Cagliari. Now receiving some notice in Italy at least, he soon moved to AC Milan. That is where he provided the first clues he may be a world-class manager.
Allegri spent four years with the Rossoneri, winning both Serie A and the Italian Super Cup in the 2010/11 campaign. When Silvio Berlusconi couldn't keep up with the new money coming into UEFA and Milan began its decline, Allegri was tipped for better things. His chance came when Antonio Conte left Juventus in 2014 to manage the Italian national team. And what should have been a golden opportunity has proven to be something of a poisoned chalice.
Again, look at the raw numbers. How can there be any question Allegri deserves to be labelled a top manager? There should be none. He has won the last three Scudettos, the last three Italian Cups, and won the Italian Super Cup in 2015. This season, the Old Lady tops the Serie A again, although Napoli's weekend win has in Turin has left zero margin for error in the run-in. Are we going to complain he has only matched Conte rather than surpassed him? Win or lose that fourth Serie A title on the trot, another Coppa Italia beckons in a fortnight. His former club, Milan are the opponents, but Gennaro Gattuso's early magic is fading. The Rossoneri haven't won in a month.
If nothing strange happens, then the Turin-based side will win both the league and cup for a fourth consecutive year. Seriously, that ought to be enough to have people buzzing, but there is more. Real Madrid have been their bogey side in Europe, which is hardly damning. This season the Merengues ousted them in the quarters but last year and three years ago, they met in the final. Conte has only twice made the final eight, once each with Juve and Chelsea, and been eliminated in the group stage.
Some Allegri detractors believe the 50-year-old tactician has benefitted from an established system. He joined Juventus to replace Conte, who had already secured three Scudettos for the Bianconeri. He inherited a core that included Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, and Antonio Barzagli. Along the way, however, he has had to replace Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, and Leonardo Bonucci. Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic, Douglas Costa, and Wojciech Szczesny have all contributed to keeping the club on top.
Others believe Allegri doesn’t have his own tactical system. He has largely used Conte's three-back system, but if he has the same personnel, wouldn't he be foolish to change what was working? That said, Allegri has shifted to shapes with four at the back on occasion and to great effect.
Perhaps his greatest detriment is his quiet demeanour. He hasn't the mad antics, mood swings, or haughty attitudes for which many top managers are known. He doesn't have a shaved head or famous eyebrow. He's just courteous, polite, and composed. Some might say boring. Maybe that's true. On the other hand, he's proven that personality isn't a prerequisite for delivering results. Only for handling media.