Vademecum for American properties (and for Italian management!) on the construction of a project. The choice of the sporting director, that of the coach, the transfer market: what the algorithms don’t say

Presenter and radio commentator on Radio Sportiva, he is on RAI with the programs 90° Minuto and Calcio Totale. Columnist and market man for Tuttomercatoweb

The player must adapt to a position that is not suited to him. Or, the coach is forced to fall back on a player who is not inclined to his way of playing. Or even, the boy hasn’t settled into the locker room and the championship. And again, the coach wants players but the management continues with his choices. Far from clichés: every summer, in every team, there are constants that should not take place in multi-million dollar projects. Yet every day we come up against unpresentable ballots, with glaringly forced tactical choices, with signings that have very little to do with a tactical model (if there is one!) and with a specific team and style of play. Even in 2024, that of algorithms, in which so much should be calculated, where the magic word that we have already spoken about in the past and which should be at the basis and root of the foundation of every project is not taken into account. The Holy Grail of functionality.

The head hunter and the choice of the sports director
First piece of a project, the choice of the sporting director. And of all the men who surround him, clearly, from the director of the technical area to a scouting area that cannot be exclusively ‘of the club’ but work in full harmony with the transfer market man and have the same method as him. An example: Giovanni Sartori could never operate in clubs that start from big data to choose players, just as vice versa a club like Liverpool could never sign Bologna’s transfer man because it starts from more ‘scientific’ analyzes in its recruiting. American properties often underestimate what is a basic choice, i.e. that of the person who should then be entrusted with all the other key choices of the club. Now there are ‘head hunters’ from the United States (Charles Gould for Roma, one of the most famous) who propose and select profiles. Except that between the States and Italy there is an ocean in between and in this ocean there are personal relationships, methodology, the type of day-by-day work that no computer will ever be able to fully understand.

The choice of the coach and the Juventus case
What a reflection aloud. How can Juventus be halfway between the confirmation of Massimiliano Allegri and the choice of Thiago Motta? Such an important club should have already chosen, decided and above all communicated. This is regardless of the results, of all the flops this season, but because we are talking about two completely different philosophies. Is it just an economic question, for the salary that the Livorno coach has yet to receive? If this is the issue, moreover with the Club World Cup upon us, after yet another capital increase, then there is doubt about the future of the Juventus project. But since we don’t want to think that this is the case, then the judgment can only be negative due to the delay with which Juventus is deciding the future of its bench. In fact, it is not a question of choosing, as in the case of the aforementioned Liverpool, between Ruben Amorim, Roberto De Zerbi, Xabi Alonso and Arne Slot (he will go), all profiles with a similar identity and a daisy to browse through. No. Motta and Allegri are different planets, the fact that as of April 26th Juventus have not yet communicated the direction they will take is worrying.

How to choose a technician. How to market
Here we are at the handbook. How to choose the coach? How to market? The secret, we were saying, is functionality. A management, in harmony with the owners, must choose a coach who embraces the market, scouting and investment ideas of those who put money into the project and those who then go to buy the players. Not only. He must be perfect for the squad of players, in order not to deplete the capital already in the farm, he must know how to enhance them and not be forced to adapt to the best in the squad. Subsequently, the sporting director and the coach must establish the transfer strategy and market objectives together. Also in this case: it would be right and ideal for the coach to have his own ‘praetorians’, but it would be equally appropriate for him to indicate to the sporting director the ‘type’ of player necessary for the growth of the team and that this then, together with the scouting, found the suitable profiles to purchase. This is how some extraordinary shots are born, some intuitions that later prove decisive. Are there better midfielders than Koopmeiners and Ferguson in Europe? Clearly yes. Are there better defenders than Pavard, better goalkeepers than Sommer? Clear. But functionality is the secret of every project. Many examples that apply to everyone: Yerri Mina in Florence, playing Italian, was a fish out of water. In Ranieri’s low-line game, in the closed fortress of Cagliari, he proved to be a valuable player. And vice versa Arthur, who with Allegri was outside the box and who in purple proved to be a very different footballer. It’s about study, in-depth analysis and choices. All steps not to be missed. Even for those who will have to make decisive choices for the future on the bench, such as Milan, Naples and beyond.