Winning heals all wounds.
When we started this series of pieces analyzing the managers with the best betting odds to succeed José Mourinho, the proverbial wound appeared to be fatal.
However, after committing a 2-1 larceny in Allianz Stadium where United scored twice off set pieces (largely orchestrated by Mourinho’s subs) in the final minutes while Juventus missed as many sitters as Ronaldo has abs, Mourinho seems entrenched as the Manchester United manager — at least for now as we determine if the wound was patched up with a Band-Aid or a suture.
In what feels like an exercise of due diligence at this point, this weekend’s Manchester Derby notwithstanding, the next man up for analysis in our series looking at the bettor’s picks to take over at United is the manager of the Old Lady who took that midweek L in Turin. Italian manager and occasional screaming marmot, Massimiliano Allegri currently sits at 16-1 odds according to SkyBet.
A winner of four straight Scudettos (along with his one at AC Milan), four straight Coppa Italias, one Supercoppa Italiana, and two dominant victories over Paul Pogba in competition videos (long shots and basketball shots), Allegri has an impressive trophy case with Juventus.
However, the big knock on Allegri may be the reason why he would be available to United. The manager has two Champions League Final appearances and a Champions League Semifinal appearance in the last three years, but, in all three years, Ronaldo and Real Madrid stonewalled Juventus on its way to European glory.
Now, Ronaldo is the coveted talisman in the Italian Piedmont, and anything less than hoisting the Champions League trophy in Madrid (imagine the storylines) next June will likely signal the end of Allegri’s tenure at Italy’s version of Manchester United.
Allegri is a curious possible successor to Mourinho. On one hand, he has the aforementioned success at Juventus, but our peers at AC Milan Offside also note that Allegri has a “polarizing” legacy at AC Milan. The manager won in his inaugural seasons at Milan in 2010-11 and Juventus in 2014-15, but, in both instances, Allegri took over title-contending rosters that were primed to take the Scudetto.
How Allegri’s time at both clubs differentiates is how his teams performed after his inaugural title-winning seasons.
According to AC Milan Offside, Milan should have won the Scudetto again in the 2011-12 season, but the team underachieved as it relied too heavily on the heroics of Zlatan Ibrahimović — a phenomenon very relatable to United supporters — and the team finished second behind Juventus. Allegri’s third season is considered more impressive as Milan lost key players but still finished third. However, the third season, again, relied too much on key players which led to a midseason sacking for Allegri in his fourth year with the Rossoneri when the team did not deliver.
Juventus scooped up Allegri in the summer of 2014 after another target of this series, Antonio Conte, resigned from the club. Success for Allegri has been consistent since day one, and he has sustained momentum after winning with Conte’s roster with an ever-evolving squad and evolving tactics.
Allegri began his reign by continuing with Conte’s 3-5-2 before implementing a base 4-2-3-1 to match his squad’s capabilities. Mr. Allegri’s Tactics, available on an app store near you, feature fluid formation transitions as possession changes. According to Tifo Football, Juve condense down to a 4-4-2 and press the opposing team to regain possession before playing the ball back out wide to big-bodied attackers or finding space in the midfield as the formation quickly morphs back to a less condensed shape.
The tactics employed by Allegri are often subject to the personnel available to him, and the manager has worked well with the roster provided by the former Juventus Club CEO Giuseppe Marotta. This is an area that would make Allegri an effective manager from the jump if he were to take over Manchester United. He can limit team’s deficiencies through scheme as the club works to bring in higher quality talent in the defense and midfield.
More importantly, Allegri would provide a key influence — an influence we also highlighted in regards to Zinedine Zidane — that has been largely absent in the United dressing room. Allegri brings a reported “sense of calm” in the dressing room that allows his players to operate without fear of constant reprimands. Watching the excellent First Team: Juventus on Netflix, it is immediately apparent that Allegri possesses an otherworldly ability to understand the pressures placed on the manager of Juventus while still being able to maintain an even personality which is personified by his players on the pitch.
Considering his recent legacy at the pinnacle of Italian football, Allegri makes sense to become the next Manchester United manager. He knows how to win championships, he knows how to scheme around his players to maximize their output, and he is capable of building strong relationships with both players and the personnel departments.
Allegri may have the knock of not winning the Champions League on his resume, but United, in its current state, needs to focus of regaining domestic dominance, and Allegri can recapture dominance in the red side of Manchester.