Tuesday November 14 2017
Italy's problems run deep

Giampiero Ventura was out of his depth, but the last few World Cups show the Azzurri lack old-fashioned talent, writes Emmet Gates.

“Everyone home!” ran the front page of Tuttosport.  A World Cup without the Azzurri, not many can come to terms with it. In fact, most had never even witnessed an Italy-less tournament. It’s been 59 years since Northern Ireland blocked their entry to a World Cup.  Amidst all the soul-searching and finger-pointing that will inevitably follow in the wake of what has been described by La Gazzetta as ‘the apocalypse’, the problems start and end at home.

The world’s collective heart broke at the sight of Gigi Buffon in tears minutes after the final whistle, his chance of appearing at a record sixth World Cup shattered. But he aside, nobody currently playing for Italy deserved to be on the biggest stage in Russia, and Giampiero Ventura certainly didn’t deserve to be in charge of a side that had qualified for the tournament.

There was little confidence in Italy’s ability to ever turn the 1-0 deficit around. Ventura, while clearly a decent Coach, was completely out of his depth and in recent months any remaining confidence in his ability to effectively manage the national team evaporated. The end result isn’t all that surprising.

While Ventura can be blamed (and quite rightly) for failing to call upon Jorginho – one of the best midfielders in Serie A over the last several seasons – until only last night, and for his complete failure to make the most of the considerable talents of Lorenzo Insigne, the cumbersome CT has hardly been helped by a dearth of genuine talent.

Now, that statement might be surprising to some, given that there’s been a reinvigorated sense of hope in the future of the Italian national side. Players like Gigio Donnarumma, Daniele Rugani, Roberto Gagliardini, Marco Verratti and Andrea Belotti all possess the ability to gain multiple caps over the coming years, but there’s a cause for concern at the real depth of youth emerging in the Italian game.

Recently, Giorgio Chiellini lamented that ‘Guardiolismo’ – Pep Guardiola’s footballing ideology - has eroded the very fabric of what has throughout history made Italian defenders the best in the world: the capacity to man-mark. Chiellini remarked: “Guardiolismo has ruined many Italian defenders a bit. Now defenders know how to set the tone of play and they can spread the ball, but they don't know how to mark. Unfortunately, that's the way it is.”

Chiellini is arguably the last of his kind. That rugged, no-nonsense Italian stalwart in the mould of Claudio Gentile, Beppe Bergomi and Pietro Vierchowod. Yet, Chiellini won’t go down as one of the all-time legendary defenders, which speaks to the general downturn in Italy’s ability to produce world-class centre backs in the last two decades. Where have all the Maldini’s, Scirea’s, Nesta’s, Baresi’s and Cannavaro’s gone?

The production line has also ceased at the top end of the pitch. Long gone are the days when Italy would have a creative genius in the No. 10 shirt, strolling around the turf seeking to bamboozle defenders with a mix of trickery and fine artistry. Never more was that obvious than at the San Siro. As Sweden sat deep, holding on to their one-goal lead from the first leg, Italy created precious little. Where have all the Baggio’s, the Del Piero’s, the Totti’s, the Mancini’s and the Rivera’s gone?

It made for depressing reading to see Ventura start such a crucial match with the strike partnership of Ciro Immobile and Manolo Gabbiadini. Respectable players they are, but both are far from world-class material.

Serie A history is full of Italian strikers who, brilliant for their clubs, simply couldn’t make the switch to the national team: Beppe Signori, Gianluca Vialli, Vincenzo Montella, Enrico Chiesa and Antonio Di Natale all spring to mind. Yet what other choices did the beleaguered Coach have? Belotti was rushed back for the first leg and clearly wasn’t fit enough to start a second game inside three days. And then there was Eder.

Where have all the Paolo Rossi’s, the Vieri’s, the Inzaghi’s, the Riva’s gone?

It’s debatable whether Italy will be really missed at this summer’s tournament; since Fabio Cannavaro lifted the trophy high into the Berlin sky in July 2006, they’ve only won one game in the two subsequent tournaments. After their humiliating group stage exit in 2010, talk of reform was high. Roberto Baggio and Arrigo Sacchi were brought on board by the FIGC in an attempt to get back to basics.

Nothing changed.

With the retirement of Buffon, Chiellini and Barzagli, the BBC is no more, dismantled.  The old warrior Daniele De Rossi has also called time. The passing of the old guard has arrived. The winds of change are upon us.

This is year zero for the Azzurri. Let’s hope there are genuine changes and not a retaining of the status quo. 

Have your say...
Italy will be back and the word will know it. Serie A is having another good season with real competition. In a few years, the program will be back where is rightfully belongs..
on the 29th November, 2017 at 4:51pm
@Denis, shut up. You're a troll and your team is going to get bounced. If I were you, I wouldn't say I was an England supporter either, but by denying them you should how cowardly you are and how shameful you are of being an English supporter. Enjoy another 2nd round exit, if you make it, and you will exit.
on the 19th November, 2017 at 7:14pm
ridiculous article did you watch Bobo Vieri play for Nationale ? Do you remember the miss against South Korea which started the whole bebacle ? We have an excellent new generation on its way give them a chance !!
on the 18th November, 2017 at 6:58pm
There's an Italian kid in France who is scoring a lot of goals. Maybe he deserved a look.
on the 18th November, 2017 at 5:59pm
Italy need to be Italy and stop trying to be Spain.The passing game is not Italy.Italy need to go back to produce rugged defenders with tactical awareness,artist in the form of Baggio,Pirlo with Insigne and Verrati now present,and killer instinct strikers like Massaro.As for tactics it should be focused on the Italian defense that is considered a form of art and play on the counter with artist players picking up those killer strikers to finish games.This the only redemption way for Italy!
on the 18th November, 2017 at 7:33am
I think the only thing we need is a manager that can commit to years not just a year!
Spain's old manager, his name escapes me but the one who looks like a pizza chef, he got old with the team he was there for 10years. which I think is where we seem to go wrong.
Ancelotti is my first choice anyday of the week but if he is coming for a pit-stop before heading back to England to teach them a few lessons in football then I would rather wait for him to do that and then join the ITA project
on the 16th November, 2017 at 9:10pm
Don't recall ever saying a race is more superior than another!? what are you reading? I simply don't want Italy to turn into a side of Players that turned Italian because they couldn't get into their own national teams. for example; Eder/Jorgihno!!!
The Answer is not to make players with NO links to Italy Italian it is to have players in the team that A)want to play for ITA, B)that are of genuine talent, C) playing well at that moment, living on a players past glory isn't correct!
on the 16th November, 2017 at 9:01pm
@anon I do not support England but unlike you I do not stupidly think 1 race is superior to another. England are in the world cup yours is not. Like i said I hope your pain and shame last a very long time. For those thinking that there are so many quality Italian players what’s the point of a reform from top to bottom if the only problem is that you had a bad manager. If you cannot accept there are precious few quality players then how do you address the problem.
on the 16th November, 2017 at 2:04pm
Maldini heir; a veteran to these blogs has finally admitted that Serie A has a problem with the number of non-italians, you have to say non-italians otherwise he gets very defensive. It has taken him years to open his eyes. Lets all give him a round of applause. Welcome to the real discussion.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 11:57pm
Some of you want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Yes, changes are necessary, especially at the top and more quality needs to come up through the ranks. But I don't beleive for a second that Italy is bereft of quality young players. Are their Baggios, Pirlos and Maldinis in that mix? I don't know but even if they aren't at that level, their is quality to build around and maybe some will become very good.. but writing off all these young players is a mistake and doesn't help.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 3:25pm
hey Dennis, enjoy rooting for England - a loser football nation with an overrated league.. the only world cup you won was done so corruptly..
on the 15th November, 2017 at 3:19pm
The only certainty we have is that nothing will change. They will just appoint another coach and as soon as they get a couple of wins all will be forgotten. This is how things work in Italy folks - get used to it. I wish they would follow in Germany's footsteps and address the root cause of the issue but there is a bigger chance of getting a far* out of a rocking horse than Italians changing anything.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 10:58am
...where's the talk of football reform in Italy after the debacle we just witnessed ?
on the 15th November, 2017 at 8:54am
Ventura refuses to resign AND NO ONE HAS SACKED HIM YET!
Does he actually think he's done well? LMFAO
This guy has serious mental issues and needs help!
Spineless FIGC haven't said a word yet..Tavecchio is in hiding..what the hell is going on?

Are FIGC planning to weather the storm by hiding until the storm subsides and then business as usual?


FIGC need a Spanish-style Inquisition to rid themselves of the rotten corpses within...
on the 15th November, 2017 at 8:44am
Part 3 - Spaletti or Simone Inzaghi get the job. Some proven winners there who will play better football and have had some success at club level, some with clubs abroad too. We'll be back, look at Germany and Spain 10-15 years ago as an example. Not qualifying could be a blessing in disguise to force the changes that are well over due. Italy will return, Forza Italia.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 8:39am
Part 2- Romangnoli, Caldara, Zappacosta, Spinazolla, Perin, Scuffet, Cutrone, Lapadula, Sansone, Benassi and a long list of others as poor players not fit enough to wear the shift. All players good enough that could have given Spain a better game in the 3-0 defeat and who could have seen us through the play off. Comes down to a clueless manager who for some strange unknown reason refused to pick the right players and adapt his poor tactics. I'd like to see either Ancelotti, Allegri, Sarri (TBC)
on the 15th November, 2017 at 8:37am
Part 1- Mostly wrong players selected and wrong tactics used throughout Ventura's reign, but saying that, we still had plenty of good enough players to see us through the play off, regardless of who we faced. Everyone expected Spain to win the group, OK fine, but we should have qualified via the play off. Gone are the days of Maldini, Nesta, Cannavaro, Del Piero, Vieri, Baggio, Totti and going further back to the 70's-80's. But, I wouldn't class Veratti, Florenzi, Insigne, Jorgingo, Rugani (TBC)
on the 15th November, 2017 at 8:33am
Time for a total makeover for our national team and our league! if the germans can do it, i'm pretty sure we can!
on the 15th November, 2017 at 6:46am
Ciao ragazzi, I was at the San Siro last night, shocking to say to least! Half the nation was at the ground I really feel sorry for all the tifosi, we just weren’t good enough simple.
These players get paid Millions and millions & they can’t score a goal against Sweden in 180 minuets che ca**zo, I’m really cut up about it, I woke up this morning in Milan hoping it was just a bad dream :(. Like others have stated, this was probably the best thing for us now we can build from scratch !!
on the 15th November, 2017 at 2:01am
The net effect of these restrictions would be more Italians playing in Serie A. Italy cannot and should not restrict foreigners but the current free-for-all is precisely the sort of thing that is fueling the various populists movements in the real world. And like in the real world, it’s all about money and corruption. That’s why there were over 1,400 players transferred in and out from Serie A teams this summer. Yes, that’s ridiculous.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:35am
The use of feeder clubs would give players games at a higher level. Currently a lot of youth players waste years in lower divisions such as Milan’s Di Molfetta who played in the lower leagues with Prato and Rimini. Serie B should be like the reserve league for Serie A. If a player is not good enough to play at Serie B level aged 18/19 then they may never be good enough to play in Serie A. At least if they're let go or sold they may join lower teams and then bloom later in life.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:34am
These changes would have the effect of reducing player churn where players are transferred and loaned multiple times in their careers which impedes their development. Messi would not be where he is now if he’d been loaned out 5 times before he was 25 (like Milan’s Abate). Serie A squads would be tighter, players would play more often and for longer together. They’re professionals. They need to do that. At the same time 18 teams would reduce the number of games and increase the quality of those
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:32am
Here's some solutions:
1. reduce Serie A to 18 teams;
2. put a cap on Serie A squad sizes of 25 players;
3. with a requirement that a minimum 5 players from said squad of 25 must be youth team;
4. restrict transfers to 3 per club in the summar and 1 per club in the winter (except for GKs);
5. restrict loans to 2 loans per player and each loan must be at least 12 months;
6. give incentives for Serie A teams to use Serie B teams (not lower) as feeder clubs.
on the 15th November, 2017 at 1:31am
Even as captain of my team, seeing Buffon's tears didn't move me. I genuinely fear for Italy and Juventus's future once he's gone, and yet my mind only brings up the illusion of having a different coach, practically ANYONE, oversee Italy's campaign at any point after Conte left.

Ventura never got credit for his work, fittingly because his work is worthless at this level. Should he deliver Euro 2020's trophy with tactical masterclass, he's already past the point of redemption. GET! HIM! OUT!!!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:34pm
Blame for the players must only be in the shape of their lack of team spirit, but how can that exist without a proper coach? Even with the best captain available, nothing about them was convincing for the longest time.

Formulating future success for Italy's footballers is an interesting discussion, but for now we know we this "team" has managed the disgrace of failing qualification for the first time in 60 years. That credit goes to Ventura and those responsible for his position.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:27pm
Things would be easy if we can pinpoint problems like that. All the players brought up had honours to their names and played at the highest level against many of the world's best, both in national competitions and CL. However, that's no guarantee to success, and quality alone will never be the difference maker.

This article might be more relevant to argue against Italy's chances for winning the World Cup. The issue is much smaller and simpler, especially with the talent available.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:21pm
The idea that a 70-year-old man was going to usher in the new era and blood the Italian youth was always a ridiculous notion. I sincerely don't' feel the situation is as bad as many are making it out to be. Sometimes the problem is simply the incompetence and stubbornness of an old fool. I see many great Italian coaches and a concerted effort by several teams to bring youth forward. Let's not let Venturas failings reflect on the entire body of players and coaches.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:03pm
I think we renewed ventura contract after the spai game! The nightmare just continues he is still our manager, how is this prossible? Does this man have no shame! It's the biggest scam i have ever seen. Neither tev or Vent are going to stand down as they sit and wait for a payout. They should be shot!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 11:02pm
I honestly believe that Ventura did this on purpose, There is no way a ct of his experience could fail this hard. Insigne in midfield REALLY. He’s knows Insigne better than most coaches, having managed him at pescara and yet he barely gave him a start. How can a ct as consistently successful as Ventura all of sudden fail so spectacularly. Even the manner in which he refused to accept any responsibility is just strange. Thoughts echoed by Torino owner Stating he did not recognise his behaviour.
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:45pm
@Dennis... you sound alittle upset. Are you another one of those who cries racist at every opportunity? Sounds like you are. It's an upsetting day for us Italians all over the world but if I had to watch Italy follow England or France I would be very upset. International football is becoming like club football soon there will be a tranfer deadline day for players to announce what nation they'd like to play for!
on the 14th November, 2017 at 10:18pm

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