Massimiliano Allegri emphasised his hope to be managing a team next season after his final home game as Juventus boss ended in a 1-1 draw with Atalanta.
Two days on from announcing Allegri would be leaving his position at the end of the season, the Serie A champions claimed a point in their penultimate match of 2018-19 thanks to substitute Mario Mandzukic’s late equaliser.
Mandzukic levelled in the 80th minute, cancelling out Josip Ilicic’s first-half goal, before the hosts were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Federico Bernadeschi was shown a straight red card for a foul on Musa Barrow.
As well as Allegri, it was a final home outing with Juventus for retiring defender Andrea Barzagli.
“I’ll only take a sabbatical if I have to, but otherwise the idea is to find a project that convinces me. Life is full of surprises and you have to be ready for anything.”
Allegri is departing Juventus with the recently-secured Scudetto giving him a perfect record on that front of five triumphs in five seasons since taking charge.
His trophy haul with the club also includes four Coppa Italia titles, but no Champions League crown, with the Turin giants, beaten finalists in 2015 and 2017, having been eliminated in the last eight for a second successive year this term.
Allegri, whose contract had been set to run until the summer of 2020, said: “I spoke to the president (Andrea Agnelli) after Ajax (knocked Juventus out of the Champions League) and we had the plans to continue, but over the last six weeks or so we all came together and reached the same conclusion.
“We never got to contracts or anything like that, but I realised that for the good of Juventus, it was right to move on and change.
“Otherwise we’d run the risk of reaching September or October next season and hit problems, so it was best to leave on a high.
“I was told on Friday morning. When I left the meeting on Thursday evening, I knew that I was no longer the Juventus coach. I wasn’t told, I just knew.”
With regard to his replacement, Allegri said: “The club will certainly make the best choice to carry on this winning squad.”
Juventus, 11 points better off than second-placed Napoli, conclude their campaign at Sampdoria next Saturday.
Atalanta will look to secure a Champions League berth when they host Sassuolo, with Sunday’s result having left them third in the table, level on points with Inter Milan and one clear of AC Milan.
Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was quoted by football Italia as telling Radio Rai: “Clearly, before the game had begun, we would’ve been more than happy with a draw, because we needed a result.
“However, at the final whistle, we feel regret, because we deserved the three points and conceded a late goal in a bit of a chaotic fashion after creating so many chances.
“The Champions League would be extraordinary, but we mustn’t think that it’s already in our grasp.”
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At a news conference on Saturday, Allegri said that he exchanged ideas at a meeting with the club directors and “the club decided that the coach would not be me anymore”.
Allegri had tears in his eyes as he looked at the Juventus players, who were all sat in the front rows ahead of the Bianconeri’s home game with Atalanta on Sunday.
“Lads this is not good, you make me emotional like this. No I won’t cry now, I cried enough yesterday. That was enough,” said Allegri.
“We talked, we discussed and we shared our ideas. I expressed my thoughts about Juventus’ future, for Juventus’ good, for what I think. Then the club rightfully decided that the coach would not be me next season. But this doesn’t change my relationship with president (Andrea) Agnelli, with (Juventus chief football officer) Fabio Paratici and with (Juventus vice-president) Pavel Nedved.”
Allegri has won 11 trophies with Juve since replacing Antonio Conte in 2014, and led the team to two Champions League finals.
But the club hierarchy appear frustrated by not being able to win the top European trophy under Allegri — especially after signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid last summer.
Massimiliano Allegri feels he will leave Juventus with the potential to go on and win the Champions League after it was announced he would step down as head coach at the end of the season.
The 51-year-old has been in charge of the Turin club since joining from fellow Serie A heavyweights AC Milan in 2014, and won the league title in each of his five seasons in charge.
However, despite domestic dominance, which also included four Coppa Italia titles, Allegri could not deliver European success, losing two Champions League finals – against Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017.
Even the arrival of star signing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, for a fee reported to be 100million euros (£90m) could not push Allegri’s side on, eventually coming up short against Ajax in this season’s quarter-final.
Juventus president Andrea Agnelli sat alongside Allegri for Saturday’s press conference at the Allianz Stadium in what was an emotional occasion, with first-team players also in attendance.
Allegri, whose contract had been set to run through to June 2020, was presented with a commemorative shirt by Agnelli which had on the back “History Alone” above the number five.
The former Cagliari boss, clearly moved by Agnelli’s speech in tribute to the club’s out-going head coach, is in no doubt Juventus can continue to grow following his departure.
“I leave a winning team which has the potential to repeat its achievements in Italy and have another great Champions League campaign. Unfortunately, some situations meant we couldn’t go all the way (during my time),” said Allegri, who will take charge of his final home league match against Atalanta on Sunday.
“We talked, expressed our ideas on what was best for Juventus and the future of Juventus. After that, the club evaluated it and decided it was best that I wouldn’t be the coach of Juventus next season.
“I leave behind a solid group with extraordinary players, both technically and as men, because you need good men to win as well as good footballers.”
Agnelli maintained he would not make any comment on the next Juventus head coach, with both former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino having been swiftly linked with the vacancy.
“We must be able to make the right decision and make them in the right moment. Only the future will tell us if these decisions are the right ones,” said the Juventus president, adding that this had been the most difficult choice to make.
“When this team comes together in July, it will begin with the objective of winning, both in Italy and in Europe.”
There had been reports of a growing rift between the head coach and vice-president Pavel Nedved over the future direction of the team. Allegri, though, stressed the parting was amicable.
“Some things were written that were not correct, suggesting I asked for a long contract, for a squad revolution and different players, but we never got to that,” Allegri said.
“We simply realised it was best not to continue together. It was far more simple than you seem to think.
“We had five extraordinary years together and must be proud of that, but enough, because tomorrow we have to celebrate. All the rest is chatter.
“Juventus will start next season with a super club and an extraordinary squad.”
Allegri had been linked with a move to the English Premier League, but for now, does not intend to make any quick decisions.
“Maybe I need a little rest too, but perhaps after July 15 I might inevitably feel the desire to get back to work and I will evaluate the situations that are proposed,” he said.
“Otherwise, I will have a year to dedicate myself to my family and my friends. We will see.”
In-form Atalanta travel to Juve having climbed up to fourth spot in Serie A on the back of an unbeaten 11-game run which has included eight victories.
Atalanta did suffer their first defeat since February on Wednesday when they were beaten 2-0 by Lazio in the Coppa Italia final, but Gian Piero Gasperini is hoping for a better outcome this weekend.
He told a press conference, as reported by his club’s website: “Tomorrow will be a very difficult task, at the home of Juventus who have won the championship, and with a party in progress.
“But if we could get something then we would be mathematically certain that with a victory on the final day we would be in the Champions League.”