Straight from the dark heart of Italy
The Persian emperor Cyrus the Great (Ciro il Grande in Italian) is considered to have paved the way for modern leadership.
And his teachings have had a profound impact on statesmen down through the ages.
“Diversity in counsel, unity in command,” he is said to have told reporters just ahead of a vital Asia-Minor Cup tie at Babylon.
Times may have changed somewhat – you see fewer sackings of cities by away fans – but Ciro’s legacy lives on, not least in his modern namesake.
Juve's man with a very different plan
Ciro Ferrara it seems was born to lead – first as captain of Napoli, Juventus and Italy, and now as coach of Juventus – and his methods are a world away from the dithering indecision of Claudio Ranieri.
The iron hand in the velvet glove – the arm around the shoulder of the likes of Thiago and David Trezeguet; two pariahs in the reign of Ranieri.
Then, surrounding himself with able generals, Alex Del Piero, Gigi Buffon (who claims that not even Manchester City’s millions could never prise him away from Juve) and Nicola Legrottaglie, to ensure his orders are carried out.
The Bianconeri’s summer training retreat high in the mountains of Trentino is running with the precision of a military camp.
Some of the rules include:
i) Players must be in the dressing room 30 minutes before training startsii) Any lateness will not be tolerated with fines of up to 100 Euro (proceeds going to charity)iii) No mobile phones at training or during mealsiv) No newspapers in the dressing room and the changing room must be clean and tidy at all timesv) No use of the internet after 10pmvi) No alcohol or smokingvii) No agents or player managers on site
And how have the players responded? Well, like the true professionals they are.
Take the example of Christian Poulsen, who has been lined up to be shipped out, but has won the player of the day award in two consecutive sessions.
By all accounts there is a positive buzz around the camp as Juve prepare their campaign to wrest the title away from Inter.
Challenges are flying in and goals are being celebrated as if they had decided the outcome of a Champions League final.
Ferrara’s masterstroke has been to ensure that Del Piero is the centre of attention, and in doing so drawn new signing Diego into the inner circle.
It seems that the pair have hit it off immediately and their one-touch passing, flicks and overall reading of the other’s intentions during the training matches have been bringing gasps of appreciation from the packed stands.
Del Piero has been on fire in every outing, and tellingly the veteran has been up there in the leading group when it comes to the grueling hill runs.
"And for my next trick..."
The air is fresh and there is a spring in the stride. No wonder new signing from Fiorentina Felipe Melo cannot wait to get involved – and expect Pavel Nedved to join the coaching staff in the near future.
Of course, these are early days in the boot camp but all indications are that the Old Lady will be hardened for battle come August.
The ancient Ciro would have no doubt given his regal nod of approval.
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