By Jeremy Lim | Goal.com Singapore
Juventus fans certainly could be forgiven for initially reacting with skepticism to newly elected club president Andrea Agnelli’s first words that he would restore pride and credibility back to the club’s name.
Once the victims of too many false dawns, these same skeptics now have every reason to take back their words as another age of Agnelli-led prosperity, such is the aura surrounding that name at Juventus, appears to beckon on the horizon.
Young Andrea is certainly not doing his family name’s reputation any harm. Nearly two years on, Agnelli has gone on to instill renewed vigor and belief in the club, exuding a steadying influence that can be felt in all areas and aspects, inspiring progress that much faster.
The first season under Agnelli’s reign was unfortunately perceived as a failure from a sporting view, with the team finishing seventh in Serie A.
However, the time it allowed the first players to arrive under the hand of appointed Sporting Director Giuseppe Marotta and settle as the backbone of the team proved invaluable.
This season, teaming up with vaunted arrivals such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Mirko Vucinic, the pioneer members of the reconstruction of Juventus have pulled out all stops in mounting a genuine challenge for silverware.
Nevertheless, putting aside the Scudetto ambitions, an evaluation of the season so far will have grossly surpassed the expectations and targets set at its beginning.
To still remain in the title race with Milan at this late stage and only four points behind, not to mention having secured a place in the Coppa Italia final, lends credit to a team who less than a year ago, found themselves in seventh place.
What's most exciting about this Juventus is that it’s not yet the finished article. It is proving to be enlivening to being able to see all the new arrivals gradually growing into the shirt.
Each of them may admittedly have taken their respective times to showcase their talents, but the team is reaping the rewards as we speak. The ability of Juventus coach Antonio Conte's men to rise to the stage in a new state-of-the-art home ground, the first stadium to be owned privately by a club in Italy, holds good omens for the future.
But in considering the future, what is to become of a piece of the club’s very own history, the legend that is Alessandro Del Piero?
Even the ordinary supporter would find it impossible to comprehend seeing Del Piero’s main contributions coming from the bench, but it is all the same heartening to see the captain as committed as ever to the club he loves, even as his last season comes to past.
When Juventus wave goodbye to Del Piero at the end of this term, they not only face the daunting prospect of replacing an absolute icon’s presence on the playing field, but as leader in the dressing room as well. The weight of having to lead by example and show new signings what it means to play for the club will then fall to elder statesmen Buffon and Chiellini.
Nevertheless, Del Piero’s departure will signal the onset of inevitability; a new chapter worthy of the club’s illustrious history. The team's foundation and spirit has been renewed and secured. The last crucial phase of Juventus’ revival lies in signing the world-class players necessary to lend the club a cutting edge in ensuring it is able to compete consistently for the league title as well as hold its own against Europe’s biggest teams in seasons to come.
If the rate of progress can remain constant, and those who come into the club’s ranks continue daring to dream, then the sky is the limit for Conte’s men, who will have everything it takes to write a brave and bright new future for themselves and be remembered in history as such.