Former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic tells Dusan Vlahovic to focus on winning games and not scoring goals and believes Old Lady’s supporters appreciated his ‘desire and spirit.’
The ex-Croatia international spoke to La Gazzetta Dello Sport on the eve of Juventus-Inter.
The Old Lady has been eliminated from the Champions League group stage and is ten points behind table leaders Napoli in Serie A. What’s the Bianconeri’s problem this season?
“It’s never easy to judge from the outside, but nothing lasts forever in football,” said the ex-Juventus forward.
“They’ve lost some key leaders, lads who knew how to win consistently. It’s relatively easy to win a big game, but it’s difficult to repeat it week in, week out, which is what you need to win the title.
“Juventus still have a lot of quality but need time to build a team with character and a winning attitude. Juventus is not for all, I am sure they’ll get back to their level.”
Whether at the stadium or on TV, Mandzukic won’t miss tomorrow’s meeting at the Allianz Stadium.
“I liked this game so much. I’d love to watch it at the Stadium, but if not, I’ll watch it from home. I never miss a Juventus game,” he said.
Most Juventus fans have blamed Massimiliano Allegri for this season’s poor results. What does he make of the Italian tactician?
“I am not surprised that fans criticise the coach when things don’t go well,” said Mandzukic.
“I don’t think results entirely depend on Allegri, who has proved to be a great coach. It takes time, even if players have talent, you don’t become Chiellini in two games.
“I think Allegri is a great coach and can turn the situation around. I had fun with him, he thinks he plays basketball well, but I proved that he is not as good as he thinks.”
Which advice would he give to Vlahovic ahead of tomorrow’s match?
“He doesn’t need any. The only thing I can say is that when I was playing this game, I was not thinking about scoring goals, but how to win the game.
“There are many ways to help the team and at Juventus, winning is all that matters. What’s the point of scoring a hat trick and losing the match? Vlahovic has proved to be a great no.9, now it’s up to him and his ambition to become one of the best players in the world.”
Last but not least, Mandzukic was asked why some Juventus fans have been missing more him and Carlos Tevez than Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I don’t know if that’s true, but I am grateful to all those who remember me with affection,” said Mandzukic.
“I don’t think it depends on Cristiano, one of the best players of all time who did great things at Juventus. I imagine fans appreciated the desire and spirit Tevez and I had. We brought them to the pitch and we won.”
Mandzukic is now Croatia’s assistant coach. He scored 44 goals in 162 games for Juventus, winning four Serie A titles, one Supercoppa and three Coppa Italia.