It’s difficult to imagine, but only eight years ago, Antonio Conte and Andrea Agnelli were walking hand in hand towards eternal sunshine and glory.
Now, they’re flipping each other off on national television and telling one another to f**k off. Their mutual hatred peaked on Tuesday evening, during Inter’s exit from the Coppa Italia semi-finals at the Allianz Stadium.
Conte was clearly agitated by Agnelli’s presence, and stuck a middle finger up to his former employer as he went down the tunnel to give his half-time team talk. Agnelli waited until the final whistle to respond, and with victory now in the bag, he visibly shouted down to the former Bianconeri coach, telling him to, “F**k off! Shut up asshole!” Not pleasant.
But how did we reach this shameful point?
Back in 2011, Agnelli, the youngest Juventus president in the last 50 years, took a huge gamble to appoint former Bianconeri star Conte as their next manager. The Old Lady were still on the hunt for their first league title since the Calciopoli scandal, and they had to get this decision right.
Luckily, the owner’s instincts were bang on. Juve won three Serie A titles in three glorious years under the Italian, reinstating themselves as the top dogs.
As you can imagine however, there were certain strains placed on their relationship – one of which being Conte’s endless thirst in the transfer market. The relentless coach grew frustrated at Juve’s activity – or lack thereof, in the windows, and often blamed his failings in Europe on a lack of recruitment.
That sounds familiar.
It was revealed in a book called, “I think, therefore I play”, written by Italian journalist Alessandro Alciato, that Conte and the club clashed over their inability to sign Juan Cuadrado, who would have thrived in the coach’s 3-5-2 system.
“Conte wanted Cuadrado, but Juventus couldn’t afford to buy him from Fiorentina,” he wrote.
“On top of that, the club failed to ensure the permanence of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba at the Stadium. Moreover, Conte did not agree with the club’s friendly summer tours.
“The former Juventus boss was also at loggerheads with the club’s Director of communication Claudio Albanese.”
And their relationship took a serious hit when Conte uttered the infamous phrase, “You can’t eat in a €100 restaurant if you only have €10 in your pocket,” lashing out at the lack of spending. The cracks were already beginning to do permanent damage to their bond, and it soon reached breaking point.
And in July 2014, one day into pre-season, he was gone. Agnelli told Conte that while he is president of Juventus, the coach will never be welcomed back.
The club released a video explaining the decision to end their partnership by mutual consent, with Conte giving his (watered down) version of events. The club wanted to hide any signs of a major spat, putting his departure down to fatigue from three years of non-stop winning.
It’s become painfully clear for all to see however, that was definitely not the case. Conte never tires of winning, but he certainly tires of answering to the same people for an extended period of time.
Conte went on to become the coach of the Italian national side soon after, but once again, that was a brief vacation for the prickly character.