The writing was on the wall from the moment Juventus laboured to a 2-1 home win to end up being shockingly knocked out of the Champions League by giant-killers, Lyon.
Maurizio Sarri had put up a brave face during the post-match press conference, saying his fate won’t be decided by one match, but in his heart of hearts, he knew his time was up.
The 61-year-old was brought in to fill the huge boots of Massimiliano Allegri, who had won five consecutive Scudettos with the Old Lady but had failed to deliver the holy grail – the UEFA Champions League, despite coming agonisingly close twice.
It was accepted that his only failure in a trophy-laden spell was in Europe and Maurizio Sarri had one and only one goal as Juventus boss – to deliver the Champions League.
Perhaps Sarri’s great success at delivering the Europa League to Chelsea in his only season at the club made the Juve hierarchy pick the journeyman coach who had reached the elite level by working up from the bottom.
Perhaps, they felt, his more expansive style of play, dubbed Sarriball, will work better towards in winning that one trophy so dearly craved by the Juventus management.
However, therein lay the conundrum in picking the former Napoli manager.
Maurizio Sarri’s philosophy and Juventus’ tearing hurry
When you look back at the chain-smoking former banker’s one-year journey with the Italian behemoths, you feel as if it was doomed from the get go.
Juventus had also brought in one of the megastars of world football, Cristiano Ronaldo, a multiple Champions League winner and one of the greatest players to have ever graced a football pitch.
The aim was the same, win the Champions League! Juventus, who were pursuing a ninth Scudetto on the trot, were always favourites to win the Italian domestic league.
But Maurizio Sarri’s style required relearning, intense training and acclimatisation. In short, for Sarriball to succeed in the joyful, vibrant ways that Napoli played, it required some getting used to for the likes of Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt.
Sarri was seen ruing as late as the first leg of the of the tie against Lyon that his players weren’t moving the ball fast enough.
Indeed, his style required quick and complex passing, high pressing and attractive possession-based football. Juventus, in that ill-fated match, were too often laboured and sterile on the ball, failing to break down a resolute Lyon defence and relying on the brilliance of their star man too much.
Maurizio Sarri had made that compromise in the middle of the season, though Cristiano Ronaldo again had a great personal season for the Bianconeri, the Italian manager moulding the style of play to suit the superstar probably didn’t help. He needed time, Juventus didn’t give it to him.
In the end, the team looked unsettled during the season. Although they scraped to the Serie A title, they lost seven matches and also lost the Coppa Italia final to Napoli, putting additional pressure on Sarri.
However, it seems characteristic of Maurizio Sarri to struggle with a new team at first. He was on the verge of the sack at Chelsea before taking them into the top four and the Europa League.
It was tougher to instil the same style in Turin where the squad had been accustomed to the pragmatic but effective style of Max Allegri’s. In the end, an in-form Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to be taking them home.
Problem with modern football?
Patience seems to be in short supply in elite football. Maurizio Sarri was doomed to fail in Turin because the aesthetic and stylistic experiment that he tried to bring to the club would have taken more time to succeed if at all it would have worked.
Juve, in a knee-jerk reaction, has brought in club legend Andrea Pirlo as the manager. He knows the ethos of the club but has no managerial experience. Only time will tell if he is given more time than Maurizio Sarri.
In the end, the former banker turned coach, won 34 of his 51 competitive games for Juve and lost only nine. He also won the Serie A, but he is still being considered a failure. That’s how modern football is.
Also Read: Real Madrid and Juventus exposed as they bow out: Champions League 2019-20