In THE five years before Antonio Conte became Juventus coach, Italy’s Old Lady spent one season in Serie B, employed six different coaches and suffered the indignity of group stage elimination in the Europa League.
Struggling to rebuild after the match-fixing scandal which saw them stripped of two Serie A titles in 2006, they finished seventh in the league twice in a row and failed to qualify for even the Europa League in the year before he took over.
Conte, however, complained yesterday that he was being judged by a different Juventus – the one which won 27 Serie A titles, were twice European champions, once European Cup Winners’ Cup winners and three times Uefa Cup holders. “The expectations on us are just too high,” said Conte, whose side have to claw back a 2-0 deficit at home to Bayern Munich in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg. “It’s easy to forget everything and not see the past.”
Conte has worked wonders since taking over for the start of last season, leading Juventus to their 28th Serie A title unbeaten at the first attempt and now the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years. But he said it was still too much to expect them to be able to compete with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, Champions League runners-up twice in the last three seasons.
“I heard people saying that our performance in Munich was Juve’s worst for years,” he said “But we’ve only been working on this side for 18 months.”