Del Neri's joyless Juventus sleepwalking through seasons
RESULTS Fri 4 Mar Lecce 1-2 Roma Sat 5 Mar Juventus 0-1 Milan Sun 6 Mar Sampdoria 2-3 Cesena, Udinese 1-0 Bari, Napoli 0-0 Brescia, Bologna 2-2 Cagliari, Fiorentina 3-0 Catania, Internazionale 5-2 Genoa, Chievo 0-0 Parma, Lazio 2-0 Palermo
Every Monday seems to arrive with a fresh name on the roll-call of the dearly departed from the Serie A coaching fraternity.
Claudio Ranieri fell on his sword at AS Roma, Delio Rossi was shoved out the door at Palermo and Domenico Di Carlo is as we speak probably having his name removed from the office door at Sampdoria.
However, someone seemingly immune to the sack race is Luigi Del Neri who continues to receive the full support of his superiors despite overseeing a third consecutive defeat at the weekend Ã¢ÂÂ and in such a craven manner to AC Milan.
Despite the weekly calls for Del to go, changing the man on the bench at this stage of the season would reflect very badly on those who put him there in the first place Ã¢ÂÂ Andrea Agnelli and Beppe Marotta.
Post-Calciopoli, Juve have brought in and discarded coaches at a rate that would impress even Maurizio Zamparini, so even now as the team languishes 20 points off the top and five points away from a Europa League spot, the powers that be will not press the eject button until the end of the season at least.
Tuttosport have been clamouring for Gianluca Vialli to take over, reasoning that the former striker and darling of the disgruntled fans would at least bring some unity to a team that is completely shot of all confidence.
When Gigi Buffon allowed Rino GattusoÃ¢ÂÂs trickle of a shot to slip through his hands for what would turn out to be the only goal of a low-key encounter at the Olympic Stadium, the reaction from the rest of the team was to let their heads drop.
There was a banner in the crowd which read: Ã¢ÂÂAt Juventus we donÃ¢ÂÂt care how, winning is all that matters.Ã¢ÂÂ However, there will be no honours for the Old Lady for another season Ã¢ÂÂ or for many to come until the club can bring in some quality players, never mind a new coach.
In truth, what are the club doing employing the likes of Armand TraorÃÂ¨, Jorge Martinez, Andrea Barzagli and Luca Toni Ã¢ÂÂ to name almost half of Saturday's starting line-up? Mistakes and mismanagement have been made at the highest echelons of the club so why shoot the messenger of a directive that no one seems to understand?
The message is a lot clearer at Milan, and Juventus must be firing envious glances at how their old rivals have on the whole made do with adequate players and a couple of world-class performers. Of course, Adriano Galliani is a much more persuasive operator than Marotta, otherwise Antonio Cassano would now be turning out in the black and white.
As it stands, Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri has instilled a very simple game-plan where the team attempt to get the ball as quickly forward as possible Ã¢ÂÂ and when they lose it, it's the job of the midfield is to win it back. On Saturday Mark van Bommel controlled the centre of the pitch, which enabled Mathieu Flamini and Gattuso to push further forward, hence the latter finding himself in a position to score from just inside the area.
Whist Alessandro Nesta and Thaigo Silva are classy acts in the heart of the defence, neither Ignazio Abate or Marek Jankulovski or whoever else is brought in at full-back offers much in the way of stability Ã¢ÂÂ but all they have to do is give the ball to a team-mate, their job done and their failings on one hand hidden and on the other exposed.
JuveÃ¢ÂÂs problems are that Del NeriÃ¢ÂÂs rigid obedience to four across the midfield without two natural wide-men does not conceal his sideÃ¢ÂÂs weaknesses so with all lost this year, why not lighten up a little and change the formation?
Pep it up a bit Ã¢ÂÂ have a bit of fun, which obviously doesnÃ¢ÂÂt come easily to the po-faced Del Neri. Try three in midfield, Del Piero or even Milos Krasic behind a front two, three at backÃ¢ÂÂ¦ the choices are endless, and as the banner on Saturday made plain, all the fans want to see is the team win.