Tag Archives: Vucinic

Should Mirko Vucinic be sold?

23 Jul

Will Mirko get the chop…or someone else?

Mercurial he may be…

and at times a wonderful footballer, but of all our forwards he is the one I would prefer to sell. Given his high amount of selections, clearly he works hard in training and Conte values his technique, in particular his talent for linking the play from midfield to…well mainly forward running midfield and wingbacks. However, he has seemed for a while now our weakest finisher, and when he is not on his game, which is at least 50% of the time he plays, he is a player the rest of the team has to carry. Many will say, and rightly so, that Giovinco could be spoken off in a similar vein, but he is younger and offers greater pace which is very important in Conte’s system; if a game needed an injection of energy in the final third I would rather see Giovinco appear than Vucinic, especially now we have vastly improved our finishing potency with Tevez and Llorente in the final third.

Using one of our two strikers as basically a trequartista was required when we were struggling for clinical finishing, leading to a formation much closer to 3-5-1-1 than 3-5-2. Llorente is certainly in the Matri mould, but more polished, stronger in the air, muscular on the ball and possessing that all important knack of ghosting into goal scoring opportunities before a defender has realized, which we have lacked in the final third since Trezeguet left the fold. As for Tevez…he is truly a world class player and at a good age in terms of maturity and condition. The Argentine’s ability to create and finish has improved our goal threat immeasurably. He is a player who can win games single-handed. He can also dribble. Far more purposefully and trickily than anyone we have had since DP departed for the country where I normally dwell.

In one fell swoop Beppe and Paratici have delivered both a potential new Trezeguet and establish fantasista cum powerhouse striker. How many of you have regularly watched Tevez I am unsure, but regardless of his off field traumas at City, his work rate on the field is second to none. Whenever he is fit, Vucinic won’t play. Its really that simple for me. Which means he will be vying with giovinco for the second striker role whenever tevez is unavailable…or playing golf!

Would his sale create a potentially dangerous or even noteworthy deficit in our creativity in the final third??? I don’t think so. Such is my confidence in the huge improvements to our creativity brought about by Tevez firstly, but also Llorente in terms of his movement, ability to hold the ball up and clinical finishing skills.

I remain a big fan of both Matri and Quagliarella. Both offer more in the final third than Vucinic, in terms of putting the ball in the net. Also…with the steady development of Pogba, our game is becoming far more multi-faceted. For from a system which massively relied upon Pirlo, sending through balls, wide balls, dictating the play, and our midfielders and wingbacks making forward runs…we now have maturing Pogba, still improving Vidal, old genius Pirlo, quality on the flanks and two strikers who need only a half chance to put a game to bed…

I haven’t yet condemned Giovinco and I see this season as a defining one for his career in general, not just at Juve. With the need for our strikers to forage deep and help link up the play lessened with the arrival of better strikers his chances to play are more limited but his freedom to do what he does best which is attack, is increased when he gets the chance to play. As Matri has shown in training recently, he is stepping up a gear, rising to the challenge of another, more polished prima punta in the ranks. Can Giovinco do the same and force himself more into Conte’s plans this term???? With his position taken by Tevez, I doubt it. So his aim must be to improve his finishing and grab with both arms every opening he is given. I also believe he has a better work ethic on the field than Mirko.

As others have mentioned, it wouldn’t be surprising to find not just one but two strikers leave the club. Quagliarella is wanted…Mirko is wanted…Matri is wanted. I highly doubt that Boakye would arrive. If we weren’t prepared to take a chance on Immobile after his stunning season with Pescara, why would change course and give Richmond a place in the squad, especially when his chances of games will be hugely higher at another club.

I suspect that the most likely outcome in terms of our striker sales will be that one of, if not both Matri and Quagliarella will be sold. And our major signing will be Zuniga or Kolarov. Matri has solid value and is proven in Serie A whereas Quagliarella may well have caused irreparable damage to his relationship with Conte with his spat with Alessio late last year. Its a shame…because I admire Fabio’s talents and feel that since that incident he has not been given anywhere near the chances to find consistency and form that have been afforded Mirko.


Juventus Striker Analysis

7 Mar

When asked of areas of weakness in the blossoming Conte Juve, the general consensus amongst juventini the world over points towards our attacking department. The defence is world class. Our wing backs are quality, the midfield is phenomenal, but in the final third…such superlatives are regularly absent. Whilst we all have our opinions on performance levels and its clear that statistics alone can rarely be used as sole indicators of value, in the case of strikers, whose prime work is focused on scoring and creating goals, the figures can prove useful. Its a lot easier to gain an accurate idea of how well a striker is performing from his stats, than it is with a midfielder, or defender when passing ranges, time on the ball, urgency of the challenge and many other factors come into play. So, without further ado, lets peek at what the season has told us so far in terms of our strikers getting the ball in the net.
(I have stuck with Serie A and Champions league performances, since the coppa italia is the only tournament in which we have not once put out our strongest team…I have also crunched the average for assists and goals combined)

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8 goals and 5 assists from 1803 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 138 minutes. (1 goal per 225.4mins)

9 goals and 7 assists from 1936 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 121 minutes.(1 goal per 215mins)

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7 goals and 2 assists from 1012 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 112.4 minutes. (1 goal per 144.6mins)

10 goals and 2 assists from 949 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 79.1 minutes. (1 goal per 94.9mins)

My expectations before making these calculations were that Mirko would come out the worst, as in he would prove our least efficient striker on paper. There is also the consideration of his duties on the field, for Conte’s strikers are tasked with aiding defensively, which is always going to eat away at their opportunities to score and create goals. He has appeared, without the stats to be the weakest link of our major quartet in the offensive ranks. And the stats confirm this…For all his wonderful moments, there are many more moments of irritation. For all his smart runs, there are plenty more jogs and shimmys into nowhere. Never sure which Mirko is going to turn up, I would happily see him sold in the Summer, to make way for a player with either more consistent quality or greater potential and determination to succeed.

La formica atomica has been more efficient in the final third than Mirko. That much has been clear on the field, and the little man should be commended, not lambasted, for to be bettering a more established striker, in his first season in Conte’s Juve is solid progress. He can still get better, and does seem to find himself in goalscoring positions at least once or twice in every game he plays. The difference between him and Mirko, given they are both more naturally SS type players is that his work rate and pace are already superior and he has potential to improve his shooting. Mirko is too long in the tooth to change now. Its been a big enough ask to get him moving around more, approaching somewhere near the minimum levels of effort demanded of every player in the squad.

Now as our only prima punta (its of little use to anyone including Bendtner in this analysis), it is to be expected that Matri would be our most efficient at scoring goals. Also getting in on the act of assisting since he is most active in the 18 yard box and as often looking to get on the end of things as to be the reference point in attack for the marauding midfielders and wingbacks to play off. His form at the start of the season was not great, leading on from a worrying period towards the end of the previous term. However, with the new year arriving, and team form as a whole dipping, Matri regained some confidence, and has since gone a steady run of improvement all round. The 2013 Matri is valuable to our cause and proves the importance of having a player in the team who can not only shoot clinically in the 6 yard box but also, of huge value to the team, make intelligent runs across and behind opposing defences. His lay-offs and positioning have jumped up a level since the dark days of late 2012 and I hope he can maintain his fine form.

Fabio Quagliarella is by far the most efficient striker this season. And yet he has played the least amount of time of the four under the spotlight. His achievements are all the more remarkable considering the lack of playing time, and in turn the lack of opportunity to gain match sharpness and momentum. There is also the small matter of his horrid injury sustained in January of 2011 which kept him out of action for a large part of that year. He featured a fair amount in the last campaign, but not as a starter (9 starts/14 sub apps) and it was hoped that this season, after a string pre-season he would return to the high levels shown before his injury.

It seems that he is returning to those high levels, but his relationship with the management is a more powerful consideration than his value to the team on the field. Ever since those angry words disguised through his jacket, when subbed for Giovinco by Alessio, has our most potent striker been punished???

Now and then I feel a wave of unease wash over me. A wave which hints at a personality cult. For our commander in chief has at times, shown flashes of something a few shades away from what we know as lo stile juve. 

The Elia case seemed reasonable, although more information regarding his lack of suitability would have been welcome. It wasn’t small change we paid for the lad and he had shown flashes of brilliance in his pre-juve career. However, his attitude upon signing seemed…at best youthful and several reports suggested his professionalism was suspect. Ziegler however was a different case entirely. His reputation was one of a solid, hard working LB, which was exactly what we needed. Conte didn’t even give the swiss international one competitive game to prove his worth. He barely attended a training session before his bags were packed, perhaps by Conte himself, and he was shipped off, and that was his Juve career over, before it had even begun. What the hell happened there remains open to debate…

Its understandable that the Mister was wired and volatile after the incredibly unjust ban dished out by the FIGC. Justice has since been done, in a loose, optimistic way, with the same man charged and convicted of ‘failure to report’ recently voted manager of the year by his peers after the amazing team transformation and unbeaten march to the scudetto last year, but nonetheless during and after the suspension, Conte was pushed to the limit. And it showed.

With the embers of unjust trauma still burning fiercely and uncomfortably in mind and heart, it was an unhinged Conte which berated the referee after the Juventus- Genoa game. Its the first time I have seen a Juventus manager behave without dignity or class. I can understand the players behaviour, which still needed censure, but Marotta only made things even worse. He has a lot to learn of lo stile Juve, and Conte also could do with a reminder, for whilst winning is important and expected, its winning with class, with humility, with dignity, which has been the Juve way for as far back as I can remember. 

Is Quagliarella’s card marked??? Cross Conte once and you are finished with Juve??? This could well be the case. Others will point to the useful runs and link-up play that Vucinic apparently brings to the team with enough consistency to warrant his high placing in the pecking order. My own personal inkling is that Fabio Quagliarella is of a stronger ego than Conte wants in the squad. Perhaps the same was sensed in Reto Ziegler. And rather than a case of putting Self before club, which seems to be the common opinion of Elia, the Swiss and Neopolitan may well have both made the mistake of putting Self before Conte.

Personality cult or not, after last season’s herculean recapture of the league title, this term’s magnificent return to the champions league, the situation in the league – even after our traditional dodgy January – still mighty and the consistency and quality of the team during Conte’s absence, I am in no position to criticize, and have many reasons to daily doff my hat to Antonio for he has regained our pride, strengthened majestically our reputation and has our club and team on the fast track to returning to our position as one of the continents elite clubs. And for this, I can only be thankful, enthusiastic about the future and like all Juventini the world over, gleeful to have our former captain as our mister.