Saturday, February 18, 2012

Juventusiasmante Campionato 1974 1975

 The biggest change for Juventus the summer of 1974 involved the manager. Carlo Parola joined from Novara to replace Vycpalek at the helm. Parola had been Boniperti's teammate and was Juve through and through. He wasn't a high-profile manager, but the club believed one wasn't needed. They were well organized in every department, the squad was solid, they would once again be competitive. Oscar Damiani, a tricky winger, added balance to the midfield. And, at the back, there were two new faces. Both would become outstanding defenders, though their styles were as different as Ann Widdecombe and Kate Moss. Claudio Gentile was one of the roughest, toughest man-markers in the history of the game. Part of the Gentile legend has it that when Kevin Keegan went up to collect his European Footballer of the Year award a few years later, Gentile, who was in the audience, whispered to him: 'Had I been marking you this season, you would never have won this award.' Whether this story is true or apocryphal is difficult to determine, but it is certainly in keeping with the tough-guy attitude which made Gentile so popular among certain supporters. Gaetano Scirea was Gentile's polar opposite. A mild-mannered sweeper, he was graceful and elegant in his movements. He was proud of the fact that, throughout his career he was never sent off or even suspended, a rare achievement for a defender in those days.

After a slow start to the 1974-75 season, Juventus took over first place in week six, 10 November 1974, and never looked back. Napoli, who would finish second, provided the most sustained threat, but they were summarily dispatched in the head-to-head encounters: an incredible 6-2 shellacking in Naples in December and, four months later, a famous 2-1 win in Turin, with the 36-year-old Altafini, a former Napoli hero, coming off the bench and scoring the winner two minutes from time against his old club, forever earning himself the nickname Core 'ngrato ('ungrateful heart'), after the classic Neapolitan song. There was a small hiccup on the penultimate day of the season, as Juve were surprisingly beaten 4-1 by mid-table Fiorentina, but the title was wrapped up on the final day with a 5-0 trouncing of Vicenza, who were already relegated. In the UEFA Cup they knocked out sides such as Ajax (something of a revenge for the European Cup three years earlier) and Hamburg, before stumbling over Twente in the semi-final. They somehow contrived to lose both legs, 3—1 in Holland, 1-0 in Turin. 'It would have been nice to win the UEFA Cup , but we weren't overly bothered,' says Causio. 'What was important to us was winning back the scudetto and, while we were in first place, Napoli were always threatening. Twente outplayed us, but, in any case, winning the UEFA Cup would have been the cherry on top, not the cake itself. And we wanted the cake.' 

 The other event was the signing of a promising central midfielder named Marco Tardelli (you may remember his celebration after his goal in the 1982 World Cup final). He was a few months short of his twentieth birthday but his ability was already obvious. Quick and dynamic, he covered lots of ground and popped up regularly in the opposing penalty box. Fabio Capello remained the first choice, as the versatile Tardelli was often deployed at rightback, but it was clear that the young buck would soon be providing plenty of competition. That season, the league championship was an all-Turin affair, pitting Juventus against their city rivals. Juve had the pedigree and the experience, but Torino had a pair of strikers who seemingly scored at will: Ciccio Graziani and Paolino Pulici would combine for thirty-six goals that season. They were knocked out of the European Cup early following a 4-2 aggregate defeat at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach, which meant they could focus entirely on retaining the league title. And as late as 21 March 1976, with nine rounds to go, Juventus had a five-point lead and looked unassailable at the top of the table. And then the wheels came off. A defeat at Cesena, coupled with a Torino victory at home to Roma, cut the lead to three points going into the Turin derby. Juventus lost 2-1, but it didn't matter: a flare, fired from the Juventus end, hit the Torino goalkeeper Luciano Castellini, and Torino were awarded the match. The next week brought another defeat - their third on the bounce, 0-1 at Inter - allowing Torino to take over at the top. Juventus bounced back with a laboured 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Ascoli (Altafini, the old master, came off the bench and scored), but the problem was that Torino kept winning too. Still, they somehow hung in there and, going into the final day of the season, they were just one point back. Torino were held 1-1 at home by Cesena, but Juventus, against all odds, were defeated by the only goal at Perugia. Knowing that their rivals had slipped up only made defeat more bitter. ...

Raw Cover Scans :

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  Fabio Capello made twenty-seven league appearances that year, notching three goals. Not a bad individual return, but, privately, Juve were starting to have serious concerns over him. It wasn't so much about his performance: he was still a regular for Italy and still gave everything he had on the pitch. Rather, the concern was his health. His knees remained in bad condition; the only reason he did not miss more games was that he would simply grit his teeth and play through the pain. He also suffered from a recurring sports hernia (also known as 'Athletic Pubalgia'), for which he was often given painkillers. Capello's own stubborn determination may have aggravated the situation: he wanted to play so badly that, on occasion, he probably pushed himself too far. 'Fabio's body did not always support him the way it should have,' says Spinosi. 'Because he was - and is - a fighter, he just battled his way through the pain. I remember games when he would run around as if everything were OK. Then, in the dressing room, the pain was so strong that he could hardly sit down.' The club reluctantly decided it was time to move him on. Tardelli deserved more playing time and it was best to sell Capello now, when he could still command a good price. Obviously, they did not advertise his condition. Instead, when asked about why he was being sold, they said 'It's a tactical decision. We no longer want to play with a traditional midfield regista ('organizer'). That position is going out of fashion.' Which, to some degree, was true. The midfield playmaker, sitting in the middle of the park, dictating play, acting as the side's metronome, was becoming extinct. The game had become faster and more physical, central midfielders were asked to cover more ground. It was also felt that to have a guy in that role made the side somewhat predictable, as most of the attacking possession went through him at some point. In addition, a new manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, was on his way in and he preferred having two holding midfielders. 

 Still, there is little question that concerns over his health were a big part of the reason why Juventus was willing to axe Capello. He had just turned thirty, hardly an old man, but, as one source put it: 'His birth certificate said he was thirty, but his body was that of a forty-year-old. Admittedly, his brain was that of a fifty-year-old with a PhD. But his brain alone could not get him around the pitch quickly enough.' Boniperti, the president, sealed the deal with his Milan counterpart, Vittorio Duina, on a flight to Rome. Capello would join the rossoneri in exchange for Romeo Benetti, a holding midfielder and fellow Italian international, plus 100 million lire in cash (around £40,000 at the time). It was a huge story. Imagine Chelsea swapping John Terry for Rio Ferdinand plus cash and you get the picture. The pair had done well together for Italy, with Benetti acting as a hardman to Capello's playmaking. And now, one was traded for the other. Capello, of course, knew why Juve were letting him go. And he was disappointed. But he had learned never to look back, only forward. Milan were ready to build a side around him. They were an equally big club. He would prove the critics wrong, not that he cared about what they said or wrote. Fifteen years after Gipo Viani had sat in his father's kitchen, desperately trying to persuade him to join Milan, Fabio Capello would finally become a rossonero.


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