The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has tough task after replacing Antonio Conte
MILAN - Juventus was still celebrating its third straight Serie A title when Antonio Conte announced he was quitting the club.
Less than 24 hours later, Massimiliano Allegri was revealed as his successor.
"It was like a lightning bolt in a clear sky when I was called," Allegri said after signing a two-year deal. "It's an honour and I realize how important it is to coach Juventus. I'm here to help this squad continue to win."
Allegri, a former AC Milan coach, is the antithesis of Conte in style, personality and background. He was fired by Milan in January, after 3 1/2 seasons with the squad. He led the Rossoneri to the Serie A title in his first year in charge in 2010-11, but struggled after Milan sold its best players, with several others retiring.
Juventus owner John Elkann is convinced Allegri is the right man for the job, revealing a surprising fact about the team's new coach.
"We have always done great things and I am sure we can continue that with Allegri," Elkann said. "He feels profoundly connected to Juventus and confessed to me he has always been a Bianconeri fan. A new era begins and it will certainly be ambitious.
"The fans' aims are to win the Champions League and defend our league title. Juve has the same ones, we have won a lot in the past and now our aim is still the same."
Allegri has the toughest act to follow. Not only did Conte win the league in his first season in charge, but he did so without losing a match. He bettered that last season with a record 102 points as Juventus became the first Italian club to break the 100-point barrier.
However, the signs look good after a positive preseason tour of Asia and Australia, which saw the side win all its matches.
Juventus also thrashed its "B'' team 6-1 in the traditional preseason friendly last week.
"The team is working well, it's not possible to be at 100 per cent on the opening day," Allegri said. "We have done a good job, even though we started late due to the World Cup.
"We are continuing to work. We have to try to optimize our work in these last few days in order to then return to work calmly during the international break between the first and second rounds, which will allow us to continue even if there will be players away."
New signing Roberto Pereyra scored his first goal for the club in that match.
Juventus has further bolstered its squad by bringing in defender Patrice Evra from Manchester United and forward Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid — although the latter has been ruled out until the middle of September after tearing a ligament in his left knee.
The Bianconeri have also kept hold of Arturo Vidal, despite the attentions of Manchester United and a number of other clubs.
Allegri's first competitive match will be the season opener at Chievo Verona on Saturday.
An impressive start is vital, for it is on the field — with performances as well as results — that Allegri will win over his doubters.
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