That’s the end of that, then. Our World Cup in Brazil is already over and ultimately lasted no longer than that of England or Spain. We just prolonged our agony a little bit longer with that cruel sense of hope that we could do it. We could’ve done it. But we didn’t. Now Cesare Prandelli has resigned along with the President of the FIGC and the knives are out in force. It’s going to get ugly.
It was already ugly during the game with Uruguay, but let’s forego Luis Suarez and his dire need for both psychological help and dentistry. He’ll get his comeuppance with a lengthy ban and by the looks of it some sore teeth. You don’t bite Giorgio Chiellini – it’s like trying to munch on granite. Even Claudio Marchisio’s ludicrous straight red wasn’t the real reason for our downfall, although it certainly didn’t help.
I’m sad to see Prandelli go, but we all knew agreeing a two-year contract extension before the tournament was a pretty show for the cameras, one nobody truly believed. There’s no such thing in Italy as backing a Coach regardless of results. Now we’re back to square one, also known as the Blame Game Bear Pit.
Mario Balotelli was bound to get the worst of it and he really didn’t aid his cause with the kind of performance his critics always accuse him of. Petulant, sluggish, frustrated, Prandelli substituted Mario for his own protection as much as for Italy’s chances of qualification. He didn’t get sent off, but he may as well have done.
His attitude after the match only made matters worse, walking out to sit on the team bus by himself while all the other players waited for Prandelli to return from his Press conference. The openness with which his teammates and Coach criticised him to the media suggest he must’ve done something truly awful at half-time. I’m sure it’ll emerge in due course.
Mario is an infuriating figure precisely because he has everything required to be a champion. He’s got physique, a great touch, a powerful shot, is strong in the air and very quick. Unfortunately, like Adriano before him, the mentality is just not there. You get the feeling he doesn’t enjoy playing football and that is the worst possible thing in this profession. He had it against England and we thought that Balo had finally matured, but it was a mere blip. Like the possibility of qualification, the hope dangled before us makes it all the more painful when we fall into the pit.
Yet Balotelli seemed like the only constant in an ever-changing team and Prandelli dived into the World Cup with a million ideas, but never settled on one. Being versatile is useful in international football, but three times he fielded line-ups that had never been used before, not even in friendlies. You’re supposed to experiment before a tournament, not in the middle of it. Balotelli and Ciro Immobile could work in theory, but they were thrown together in a crunch match against a consolidated Uruguay as perfect strangers.
Marco Verratti and Andrea Pirlo together in a dual playmaker system was an idea I really liked, but again one that should’ve been worked on many months ago. The Paris Saint-Germain talent has been on the scene for a while and there was no reason to wait this long, when Pirlo was on the verge of international retirement, to use them together. Now we’ll never know what they could’ve achieved as a pair.
We’ll never see Pirlo in an Azzurri shirt again. Just think about that for a moment. It’s much more depressing than going out of a World Cup.
Prandelli’s whole approach in Brazil felt half-assed. Antonio Cassano, Matteo Darmian and Lorenzo Insigne were last-minute additions to the squad, which again prompted the Coach to reshuffle his plans. Giuseppe Rossi was not fit enough for a major tournament, I’ll agree with Cesare on that one, but it didn’t entirely look as if Cassano was in any better shape. Plus Rossi with one leg would’ve run more than Balotelli did.
It’s interesting in his Press conference that Prandelli complained the Nazionale was being treated like a political party. He’s not wrong, as everybody agrees on the need for reform and revolution, only they cannot decide on how that should be done and so we just stand there arguing about the best way to swim as the Titanic sinks beneath us.
No matter who takes over, the next Coach will be in the same situation eventually. It’s not a job anyone should aspire to.