Aditya Bajaj explains why the Old Lady of Turin have every reason to be relieved following their head coach's ban reduction...
Finally, some respite for Juventus manager Antonio Conte as his appeal to the TNAS tribunal against the initially announced ten month touchline ban from football, led to the successful reduction of the same by six months. Having already sat away two months of that ban in the VIP box during match days, the decision means he will be back to where he belongs on the 9th of December to lead his team on an important away trip to Palermo.
Not a victory by any standards, if you perceive the whole situation from a Juventino’s point of view, and its certain that the former Juventus captain must be feeling the same. But both parties cannot deny (even if they seem defiant to show it) that they are mighty relieved.
Six years since the Calciopoli scandal that crippled the Turin giants to a virtually unrecoverable state, the club is still fighting for justice constantly sticking its neck out to prove that they were wronged by the Italian federation’s shameless judicial system, while the rest of the league has moved on knowing whatever happened, happened! A spectacular Serie A title last season, where they were simply unbeatable was marred by the ‘three star’ controversy which obviously could have been avoided.
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In Conte’s case however, with the season already underway, the club would do well to just look at the positives of his ban reduction and move forward in interest of both Juventus and the Serie A, a league so desperately looking to shrug off a dampening reputation in Europe. While in their defence, it’s only fair that justice be done as it’s their right, but knowing Italian football and its judicial system, it’s next to impossible and the best thing would be to just move on and let the game do the talking.
The former Juventus captain’s touchline ban has done little to belittle the Bianconeri spirit on the field as they are still unbeaten leading the table after seven rounds in the league and have made a sparkling debut in the Champions League after a three year gap, showing the world that they are among the favourites to go far in Europe this season after an incredible performance at the Bridge against defending champions Chelsea. Barring a few scares here and there against Fiorentina in Serie A, and the home draw against Shakhtar in Europe, the team continues to raise the bar for itself with dominant performances leading to lot of goals and authoritative victories over their rivals.
Though it should be appreciated, that interim coach Massimo Carrera has done a pretty good job from the touchline in his master’s absence, he would be more than happy to hand over the baton to Conte and rightfully so. Everyone from the fans to the club, will not shy away from admitting that despite the results, the victories seem a little less convincing without Conte’s constant shouting and chanting from the touchline, never failing to inspire his lads to win at all costs.
Juve need Conte's experience in CL
Even though Juventus is set to play the likes of Napoli, Inter, AC Milan, Lazio and the all-important match against Chelsea between the time period from now to when he returns against Palermo in two months, the successful appeal provides a major boost to the club because should Juventus qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League - which barring a catastrophe, they will – Conte will be at the helm from the sidelines to manage his side in the more crucial phase of the season both in the league and outside.
Conte lifted the Champions League as a player with Juventus back in the 1995-96 season and his vast experience in the competition will be crucial for his team that comprises of many players who are playing in Europe’s top club competition for the very first time. Yes, the touchline ban did mean that he could train his players during the week but one must admit that first hand management and communication are any day preferred to a proxy set up as they change the whole dynamics of the way the team plays on the field.
So far, as has been evident, Juventus will certainly lift the Serie A with the transition at the Milanese clubs having lowered the level of competition by a great degree when compared to previous seasons, but if it dreams of going far in the Champion League, it will need the experience of a man capable of making tough decisions at crucial moments in a game that cannot be pre-judged before a match and written down on a piece of paper.
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More importantly, having been crowned as Italy’s very own ‘Special One’ by none other than Jose Mourinho himself, the Champions League will be a real test of the Italian’s pedigree as a trainer, having never managed a side in the world’s most coveted football competition in his career. It’s here that he will be meeting his match, and its here that he will need to justify what the Real Madrid coach tried to imply a few months back.
The beleaguered coach’s press conference back in August, after the initial hearing where he was handed a ten month ban from all competitions, was emotional and feisty, where he took the system head on trying to prove his innocence out in the open having failed to convince the judiciary but perhaps by his own admittance, his submission to his lawyer’s words to apply for a plea bargain was perhaps where he literally gave the federal judiciary a case to convict him of the charges against him.
Yes, by no standards a bargain plea implies that the concerned party is guilty but as funny as it sounds, the judiciary took that as an admission of guilt, enough for them to once again shame Italian football by handing over a hefty ban without any credible evidence against the convicted.
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If he did happen to know about the fix at Siena, however, his treatment must act like a lesson for everyone else, that knowing about a crime and not reporting it is a crime itself, even if you are pure and have no intention of washing your hands with the others involved.
As unfair as it sounds to the Turin giants, it has to be admitted that Conte’s reduced ban is a breather and knowing Italian football and its judicial system, we know justice in next to impossible.
On that account, Juventus and Conte need to be rational by letting go of this injustice and build a future on the positives for the greater good of Italian ‘football’ and its fans that really deserve to enjoy the game after a torrid summer.
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