It’s August, 2020 and Andrea Agnelli stands in front of Juventus team and staff, fresh from appointing Andrea Pirlo as manager. The club’s chairman and president doesn’t mince words.
“I have been president of Juventus for 10 years,” he says, as everyone listens closely. “When I look back at last year, I have to tell you, in all sincerity, beyond the sports results, it was a shitty year, in my opinion. Some people, some of whom are here now, didn’t make the best effort. When I think about the work everyone at Juventus put in — and there are 800 of us — all 800 of us go out on the field. All 800 win and all 800 lose. We are a group, we have to be united. We must always be going in the same direction. As for the coach, I made a choice I believe in. But now, it’s up to the group whether or not to follow him. It will be a tough year. I feel enthusiastic again. Anyone who tries to touch any of you will have to deal with me first….the rest is up to you.”
This is All or Nothing: Juventus, Amazon Prime’s latest soccer docu-series installment out Thursday, this time following the Italian giant’s 2020-2021 season and Pirlo’s first and only Juventus campaign as manager (you can watch all of Juventus and the rest of Serie A on Paramount+). We already know the end, but what makes this an interesting story is how it unfolds and understanding the circumstances that surrounded his time with Juve as head coach. So that’s where the story begins as Pirlo embarks on his new journey.
“None of us have the slightest clue, no-one can know what it will be like,” says local radio. “Whether he’ll be the next Guardiola or just a mediocre coach.”
Gianluigi Buffon reflects on his friend and former teammate, now his new manager. “I am bound to Andrea by a relationship of brotherhood,” he tells the camera. “His failures are also my failures.”
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This is where the show takes us, the romanticism and closeness that only Italian football can provide, told from the point of view of one of the most historic clubs in the world.
Leonardo Bonnucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Cristiano Ronaldo – they all chime in, and episode by episode as the story of Pirlo’s season unfolds
All the main voices are here. We get to see Fabio Paratici, now at Tottenham with Antonio Conte, at work. He comes across as an obsessive, meticulous workaholic. Pavel Nedved, the vice chairman and Juve legend, also has a role in the show.
“If you’re running Juventus, you must always be focused on tomorrow,” says Agnelli. That’s Juventus’s biggest dilemma as a club, the Goliath of Italian football, with a record 36 titles. To let go of the past and adapt to the demands of modern football.
The production value, as we’ve become accustomed to with All or Nothing, is obviously here. From the dramatic string music during match action to behind-the-scenes footage inside and outside of the pitch, this is a carefully crafted show. The skillful, London-based production team Fulwell 73 (Sunderland Til’ I Die) takes care of the club’s story, while bringing some voices from local fans. This particular edition also has a Hard Knocks feel to it where the business behind the scenes takes precedent, but there are intimate, personal moments. From Buffon’s household at Christmas time, Pirlo’s own family, and a fan’s perspective, the viewer gets to see what happens outside of football.
“In a way, Sunderland was more difficult [to produce], as we didn’t have the same level of access,” says executive producer Ben Turner, speaking to CBS Sports. “We never got into the dressing room at Sunderland! There was certainly a difference with Juve, if only because everything they do is national if not global news. They were very accommodating and we got to film some amazing things, the biggest problem really was Covid….by the end of the season we had protocols in place and a way of working but especially at the beginning of the season, when people really didn’t know how to deal with Covid and Italy was affected very early it made it very tough.”
The project, however, comes together and the team does a great job at highlighting the season.
The obvious highlight for American viewers also gives Weston McKennie as we get to see his introduction to the club, quite literally, as McKennie’s first scene is his arrival at the airport.
McKennie’s first mission at the club? Lose body fat.
“I miss the American burgers!,” says McKennie in the training room.
McKennie’s role and his view of the club is also part of the story. His move after all, was a massive statement for American talent.
“I feel the pressure more than any other club I’ve played at, just because Juventus, you know,” says McKennie, speaking to the camera. “Where it’s expected to win. You have world class players that you play next to, that you play with, that are on the bench as well. If I play a great game maybe I have an opportunity to start the next game, but it’s not necessarily a secure spot.”
Another interesting character is a player not familiar with the regular football fan, third-string goalkeeper Carlo Pinsoglio. You don’t see much of him on the pitch but his role with the club is huge as he is one of the most important voices in the dressing room. A touching moment is when Pinsoglio drives all over town with his girlfriend, looking for a birthday present for his close friend, Cristiano Ronaldo. What do you give a man who probably has everything?
A t-shirt with pig emoji, of course.
There are other great moments as Buffon and fresh arrival Federico Chiesa reflect on how they know each other so well due to Buffon’s relationship with Chiesa’s father, Enrico, from their days at Parma. Federico remembers being young and seeing Buffon visit his house and seeing the goalkeeper with crazy spiky hair.
“He [Buffon] would enter the room and I would just start crying!” laughs the young Chiesa.
The show shows a clear sign of respect between the young players and the older ones, reminding us of the traditional characteristics that make Juventus such a great club: the values of who’s been here before you and how you learn from it.
Leonardo Bonucci, a key elder statesmen of the team, is most definitely the scariest member, commanding absolute respect from everyone. But you also see his softer side when he is with his children. The adored Chiellini heavily features as the Juventus and Italian captain is everything you think he is outside of football. Determined, competitive and extremely personable, Chiellini does so much for the club, specifically working with academy players and youth members, including a foundation to support young children with disabilities, while visiting them on a regular basis.
Then there’s Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star walks around the club essentially idolized by everyone. Projects such as these work best — like at Leeds United or Sunderland — when you completely peel the onion and see all aspects of a person, and this can be difficult when you deal with someone like Ronaldo, playing inside a team who, like him, are extremely protective of their image. When we do we see raw, vulnerable moments, however, especially on match days, it makes for great television. The final three episodes, for example, which feature Juventus’s loss in the Champions League quarter-final stage to Porto and the team struggling to keep up with Inter Milan and the other main contenders in the race for the Scudetto, show us the boiling temperatures inside the club.
The camera was placed inside the dressing room in all matches, so you can see the immediate reactions. After bowing out in the Champions League, Ronaldo sits, alone, with his hands on his face, crying. In the loss to Benevento, which meant the end of Juve’s title defense and the hope of their tenth consecutive Scudetto, Nedved, Paratici and Pirlo stand outside of the dressing room, lost, frustrated and tired. This is when the castle begins to crumble.
One of the things that made Sunderland Til’ I Die so special in its production is that it made the people, regular people, the central character. Here you get to see similar themes as early on, the community takes center stage as we are introduced to pizza place manager Roberto Sabato from Puglia. “I’m a restaurateur,” says Roberto. “Juventus fans come here from all over because I’m quite well known.”
The camera cuts to a customer watching Juventus on his phone, praying ahead of the game while waiting for his pizza.
Another example is the eve of the Derby della Mole between Juventus and Torino, and a special moment inside a local church where there are opposite sides within the parish. One side, including Sister Carla, is Juventini, while Don Stefano is a Torino fan, and when they meet during derby days, tension runs high.
“In those moments, she forgets he’s the priest and speaks bluntly to him,” says another member.
What makes Italian football so unique is the proverbial (and sometimes literal) fire created by supporters from all over the country. This is what the show aims to give you before matchday. But it probably could have done with more raw footage, exploring fan culture right from the streets. Obviously, this was difficult during a time when the pandemic ravaged the country.
One thing that this show finally gives us an answer for is Andrea Pirlo’s management style, or at least, an entryway into it. Pirlo by nature is an introvert. This team, filled at the time with stars such as Ronaldo and Chiellini – players who command attention – needed a leader who mirrored this kind of energy, but also, were receptive to someone who gave some kind of personality. Pirlo, one of the greatest midfielders of the game, always let his passing do the talking. In management, however, a quiet disposition can only take you so far. It’s obviously not the most important factor in becoming a manager, but it would be naive to underestimate the values of man management.
There are also good snippets in understanding how Juventus works technically. A good example is Antonio Gagliardi, the team’s technical assistant, and how during games he will watch the action from the high above and much like an NFL coordinator, will message across the opponent’s shape and formation, communicating them to Pirlo.
The players also talk so highly of the Champions League throughout.
“The Champions League is the dream,” says Bonucci.
“The Champions League is the reason why I still play,” says Buffon, speaking of the one trophy he stills searches to attain. This makes it all that intriguing as Agnelli himself was one of the main architects for the now-doomed Super League. That’s when this story becomes really intriguing, and the show covers it.
The camera cuts to Agnelli, discussing the Super League to his staff and executive decision makers. “I’ll work on it. If I need protection, I hope to have your back. I’ll need it,” he says to the room.
“Today, soccer clubs are companies,” he says to the camera. ” When you try to bring innovation, you often clash. Between 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, we estimate between 6.5 and 8.5 billion accumulated losses of first division. So either you owe because you have equity, or you need capital, because what really matters is the present and the future.”
“The Super League is only for the rich people,” says one fan in the streets.
“It kills poetry,” says another.
…and days after public pressure, the idea collapses. Meanwhile, on the pitch, Juventus ironically has to worry about their game against AC Milan, which has direct implications for attaining Champions League for the following season. This, alongside the Italian Cup final, becomes the central theme as we wrap the show, where Pirlo’s character becomes more animated, more aggressive (in a good way) and it’s a shame he didn’t start the season in this manner.
The cup final in the last episode was also Buffon’s departure, so it naturally had extra meaning for the club and his good friend, Pirlo. It was a touching moment in the series.
But with joy comes the ultimate conclusion as Pirlo, despite salvaging Champions League for the team on the final day of the season, says goodbye to Juventus.
“My work ended on a positive note,” says Pirlo. “I can walk away with dignity, with no regrets, happy to have brought the team to the Champions League, and with this achievement, I can sleep peacefully.”
All or Nothing: Juventus is another beautifully produced show from its genre, with some great moments that explain the demise of Pirlo’s campaign. Thanks to Fulwell’s team and the club’s access, fans are able to see multiple moments of accessible vulnerability, and if there’s one thing that soccer fans crave for these days above anything else, is transparency.