Tuesday November 14 2017
Ventura entirely to blame

Italy are out of the World Cup for the first time in 60 years and Adam Digby lays the blame squarely at the feet of Coach Giampiero Ventura.

For the first time since 1958, Italy will not be at the World Cup finals. After a qualification campaign that never saw them look confident or cohesive, the Azzurri will spend next summer watching the tournament on television. As they do so, the players will reflect on their part in what has undoubtedly been one of the worst two-year stints in the history of a proud national team of one of the game’s most prominent footballing countries.

Before looking at the sorry state in to which Calcio has descended, let us take a moment to praise the side which ultimately knocked Italy out. Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden reinvented themselves as a well-organised, hard-working and energetic team who ran tirelessly to implement Janne Andersson’s tactical plan.

As a unit they held the Azzurri at bay for over 180 minutes, keeping calm and never letting a vociferously partisan San Siro affect them, the visitors looking in control even as their hosts poured forward with a passionate crowd roaring their approval.

But when all is said and done, the fact that a run of being present at 14 consecutive tournaments has come to an end has very little to do with the effort of the proud Scandinavians. Instead, the blame should be laid entirely at the feet of one man: Italy’s Commissario Tecnico Giampiero Ventura.

Forget the ridiculous complaints about foreign players damaging the development of homegrown Serie A talent. Forget penalty shouts for a foul on Matteo Darmian or even the shot-stopping heroics of Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen because, in truth, the work of the man on the sidelines hindered his team in almost every match of his tenure.

He arrived promising to bring through the exciting crop of attacking young players overlooked by his predecessor Antonio Conte and insisted his lack of success at club level would not affect his ability to lead the Azzurri. Yet Ventura failed summarily to do the former and, as time wore on, he also proved that the latter did influence his choices.

With time ticking away on Italy’s qualification hopes, the 69-year-old remained as cautious as you would expect from a man whose five previous jobs were with Messina, Hellas Verona, Pisa, Bari and Torino. The team ended the match with three central defenders on the pitch and with Lorenzo Insigne – arguably Serie A’s most in-form attacking player – as an unused substitute.

Napoli’s Jorginho finally made his full debut and shone in the first half, his passing the reason for the team’s best chances, as he showed why he should have been part of the squad long ago. His omission was baffling, but given that Ventura played just two central midfielders in Madrid against Spain, it was by no means his worst decision.

That suicidal 4-2-4 formation was overrun by La Furia Roja and left Italy to face the playoffs, where the Coach continued to make frankly ridiculous decisions and comments. In the first leg he sent on a bemused Insigne to play as a central midfielder, only to express his “surprise” at the physical approach of Sweden, something any casual observer of the sport would have fully expected.

The only hope was that the players would manage to overturn the result in spite of his errors, but it proved impossible and now Italy must face the reality of just how far they have fallen. If nothing else, Ventura’s time in charge must serve as a warning of what can happen with the wrong man at the helm.

Those tasked with rebuilding the national team must recognise that this failure has brought an unacceptable and unforgivable end to Gigi Buffon’s stellar international career, that a generation of players have to rediscover every quality that made the Azzurri a side to fear. They’ve got a long way to go.

Have your say...
Has anyone considered the possibility that Italy was not meant to be in the WC; The referee missed a Swedish penalty and 2 Italian hand balls; all in the box; Italy was responsible for the demise of Blatter and the rest of his bunch; in fact, after the last WC they told FIFA they were sick and tired of all the cheating, they had to go; Blatter expelled them and Europe from WC play forever; The SA teams stepped in and helped; over 700 games were fixed as per Toronto Star newspaper June 2014.
on the 22nd February, 2018 at 1:10am
He wouldn't play Insigne the most creative and inform player nor then give Giovinco a chance.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:52pm
but are selected. Veratti is always picking up yellow cards and not playing well for the Azzurri but will he not be picked here on. I think Cutrone should have been picked for the playoffs and should have played. Playing not fully fit Belotti, picking Gabbiadini and Eder who are not playing regularly for club. So atleast he could have picked Balotelli who is regularly playing for club and good in the air, because Ventura wouldnt have dared to try Cutrone. (cont'd)
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:51pm

Let me explain my taking Balotelli's name. I didn't mean to say that we should build future with him being main part of the attack nor I meant that he surely would've made a difference in the Playoffs and we'd have qualified. I meant whoever is the new coach shouldn't have favourites or dislikes. If two or three first choice forwards are injured and someone is playing regularly and scoring goals he should be given a chance. Both Gabbiadini & Eder are not playing regularly ... (cont'd
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:47pm
You were doing so well, then you go a ruin every statement you mafe by saying Balotelli!!!
Absolutely not,we need change not half a change to bring back old problems! BALOTELLI would have been sent off in one of the Sweden games. No no no. This is why we need and Ancelotti or Mancini coz both will stay well clear of the waste of space Balotelli!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:53pm
he wasn't entirely to blame

Ventura asking De Rossi to go into the game instead of Insigne is a representation of what is wrong with Italian society as a whole....the older people/players do not make room for the younger players..this was WC 2010 over again with an old ignorant coach bringing an assembly of older "loyal" players who should have retired from international football a long time AND a coach who also bring those hardworking BUT less talented players who don't make a difference
on the 14th November, 2017 at 8:23pm
Who ever was responsible for hiring Ventura in the first place should be fired. He is a failure of a coach who hasn't won anything. He took this team who were runner's-up at the Euros only 18 months age and reduced them to a team that could not even beat the likes of Macedonia. He should have been fired after the draw with macedondia.
This American would like to thank Gigi, Cheilini, Barzaglia, Rossi who have brought great joy to me and my familyover the past two decades. Grazia!!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 8:12pm
Winston makes a great point.Those who hired Ventura are mostly at fault and should be sacked.I can't believe there were many people who didn't shudder when he was hired and feared the worst.Ventura only did what he was asked to do with his limited ability but at least should have the decency to resign.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 1:36pm

Instead of focusing on not conquering Sweden shouldn't you be focusing on team selection and using a clown of a manager as Ventura. I'm beyond sad that they are not in the WC as they belong there, but trashtalking Sweden isn't really what you should be doing now.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 12:43pm

"Sweden really"? Considering your name Im guessing your American with Italian heritage? Still call it soccer do you? At least we played with grit instead of whining on every call. There I said it.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 12:41pm
"Instead, the blame should be laid entirely at the feet of one man: Italy’s Commissario Tecnico Giampiero Ventura." Digby

You're wrong. The biggest blame should be put on those who hired him: Carlo Tavecchio & co. Ventura was always a provincial manager with absolutely no business being in charge of the Italian national team. They should've known better. Can't really hold it against Ventura for taking the job even though he is a big part of this failure too.

on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:58am
FIGC needs an injection of young blood, fresh ideas and 'in touch with the modern game' personnel. Please stop employing these 70-80 years old pensioners to run office and coach the team. Buffon - I love you to bits - you have been a wonderful servant, but you should have retired from international football 5 years ago. Give others a chance to develop their game. Italian game needs a slow and patience evolution and I hope this massive slap in the face wakes them up.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:43am
What I found shocking was how some of the so called 'veterans' made derogatory comments about the Swedish team - some going as far as calling them ugly and stuck in the past(Vialli I am looking at you) and how Italians were the 'superior' football nation. They are all eating humble pie now. Additionally, please stop blaming foreign players for the decline in the quality of the league and the national team. After all, its the club owners who 'BUY' these players. Blame your own stinking system.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:26am
Totti. Pirlo n now Buffon,Chiellin,Barzagli n De Rossi gone. It has the real feel of n end of n era. Despite the pall of depression over Italian football atm there is a real chance to change n implement new rules n laws. The talent will always b there. Even when the system was rotten Italy still had the talent to win the WC. I want 2 thank all those players. Watching them over the years has given me n my Dad many great memories n I'll remember them from all the great nights n not last night!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:15am
What to expect from Italy when the star of a team is 40 year old goalkeeper? What to expect when the fate of country is a laid on a feet of a Napoli sub Jorginho? What to expect of a clueless manager like Ventura clown?
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:14am
Gasperini and S. Inzaghi are miles ahead of Ventura. Hope they bring in more Italians/homegrown players into the team & starting eleven & so does Sarri.

And Balo & Giovinco shd be given another chance if they are playing well. We should not be denigrating other leagues saying who does Balo play for or Giovinco play for. Most dn't even know the clubs where some Swedish players are playing. If the player can contribute to the Nationale & is in good form with right attitude he must be given chance
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:10am
We can blame Ventura all we like (and yes he is a clueless moron of a coach). The truth is that Italian football has been in a steady decline for a while now. They did not make it past the group stage in the last two WC finals. The warning has been on the wall - its' just been repeatedly ignored. Personally, I see this as a great opportunity to bring about some long awaited changes. Germans went through the same situation in 2000 and look what they did. You can not paper over the cracks.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:09am
-People in charge who have no idea on how to reform n who make decisions based more on saving financially n 2 not upset the status quo! Of course GV must also take most of the blame. They at least did pick him with the intent on bleeding the good youth in but instead he's looked as directionless n incompetent as the people who picked him! After Calciopoli I knew it'd take years for Italy to recover but this isn't progress (despite the innovations of many Serie A clubs) more like a devolution!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:00am
Hope Allegri will now play Rugani regularly and start him in every match and play at least 5-6 Italian/homegrown players in every match. Hope Juventus do well and go deep in the Champions League. After this heart break can't even be thinking on the lines of them winning it ... and when they couldn't win one of the recent finals. Hope AC Milan can go deep in the Europa league with all the Italian players doing well.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:58am
To everyone who thinks Sarri could run the Nazionale, they're wrong Sarri is a club coach who requires huge amounts of time to drill his tactics to his players. Ventura must leave, but Sarri is not a solution.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:55am
This is the best news for the Azurri, exactly what I hoped for. Hopefully the whole of Italy will get a wake up call and a slap in the face to sort out the whole system. Italian football is falling behind too far. The whole infrastructure needs changing from the stadiums, to the youth teams, to the whole attitude of the clubs. Everything needs to change from the top to the bottom. The fact that Italy haven't even qualified never mind winning the world cup is stating how bad of a state the whole.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:49am
Don't feel like watching Calcio, Serie A matches unless in the next few months the no. of Italian players, homegrown players in all clubs goes up from one, two or max 3 to 5-6 players. The owners of the clubs and managers if they really care for the Azzurri after what's happened will agree. Infact absolutely don't feel like watching any football match for sometime after this. Will like to just keep in touch with scores and results & some news, might watch some small highlights if at all.(cont'd)
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:42am
Feel so bad 4 Italy n Buffon! I hope this leads to a radical change. U get what u deserve n like a mirror of Italian football in general this Italy team was disjointed, stale n had little desire to change!They've gone backwards. The talent is still there. Players n coaches. But where is the infrastructure? strong foundations r needed. Instead Italy has outdated Stadia. Many clubs who sell on their best players each year. A distinct lack of trust in it's talented youth n most glaring of all-
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:40am
What a sad, sad night for Italian football. I really hope now we can rebuild and get rid of the likes of Ventura and Tavecchio. I hope one day to see a proud, incredible Italia team with perhaps Coach Buffon on the sidelines singing the anthem with pride once again.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:27am
Regarding Calcio problems everyone knows what needs to be done. What is required is change in the personnel heading FIGC who then can carry out the blue print.
I have no team to root for in the WC with my beloved Azzurri out. Wish it was one month away and so can quickly move on from the current miserable feeling. But now 7-8 months of pain. Might watch some of the matches for entertainment as a neutral or support some underdog in any tie but passion will be missing. (cont'd)
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:19am
4) ..... so why not experiment with 424 in this match (not last 10-15 minutes depending on score if he has some bizzare fixation with it)

His post match comments was indication of what was to come as clearly he wouldn't accept mistakes and learn. But the biggest Villain and criminal is who appointed him and let him continue.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:07am
3) Many of these same players with some lesser quality players beat Belgium, Spain, Sweden and gave tough time to Germany and could've beaten them on penalties just a year back. Italy could have won one and drawn other against Spain or drawn both and gone into the qualifiers not with confidence shattered and confusion all round. So Venturas idea was - we are going to lose to Spain or cannot overhaul the goal difference even if we draw this match ....(cont'd)
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:02am
2) The FIGC could have rectified their blunder of appointing Ventura a bit by sacking him after the qualifiers or after the Macedonia match and appointed a real coach at least temporarily till the end of playoffs. Leave alone Venturas bizzare tactics and selections .... shocking and unacceptable was his attitude. When after the Spain match after all the criticisms he said that all this outcry is surprising cause did any one expect us to win the group when the draw was made ?! Why not? (cont'd)
on the 14th November, 2017 at 9:59am
Italy team thoughts last night:
Buffon - Retiring
Barzagli- Retiring
Chiellini- Retiring
Bonnuci - Why did I Join AC again
Parolo - wow I’m in the starting line how must be my skill
Candreva - Am I the only proper italian inter player here
Jorginho- this team must be desperate
Florenzi - play me anywhere I can do it
Darmian - How have I been picked I forgot what a full match looks like at Man U
Gabbiadini- must of picked me because of my form
Immobile - where’s that goal net must be in Lazio.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 9:57am
Feeling low and empty. Shameless, egoistic and maniac Ventura has not yet resigned !!! He has brought shame to Italian Football and pain and hurt to supporters. Villain of all are the FIGC Bosses. Whatever the problems in Calcio, the group of players at Ventura's disposal along with some he didn't call up were enough to see out the playoffs and qualify and then atleast go to the next round there. With him at helm bring in any player and they'd find it difficult to beat any team.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 9:57am

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