Tuesday November 14 2017
Di Biagio: 'Italy warnings for years'

Italy Under-21 Coach Gigi Di Biagio doesn’t want to talk about replacing Giampiero Ventura, but “we’ve been sending warnings for years.”

The Azzurri lost a World Cup play-off 1-0 on aggregate to Sweden, failing to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958.

A day later, the Under-21 side notched up a fourth consecutive victory, beating their Russian counterparts 3-2.

“It is not a good day for Italian football, so we had to face this game in the best possible way,” explained Di Biagio in his Press conference.

“I hope this is the Nazionale of the future we are seeing, as that would mean we’re doing our work well.”

People have called the World Cup elimination the start of ‘Year Zero’ for Italy, but Di Biagio sees a very different scenario.

“I think it was already five or six years ago, but nobody noticed. We’ve been sending warnings for years that the next generation had to be ushered in and there wasn’t enough playing time for young Italians at club level. It took a nasty result like this to open people’s eyes.

“It’s easy now to criticise, but there have been difficulties for some time. We looked like those who were trying to reform Italian football just for the good of the national teams, but we were doing it for all of Italy.

“We hope that we can grow and unify our forces.”

If Ventura is sacked, then Di Biagio is the most likely to take over – at least temporarily – until a more prestigious name is found.

“For now I am and remain the Under-21 Coach. In future, you never know, but I don’t think it’s respectful to be talking about that today.

“We must not forget the problems that derived from the last two World Cup campaigns. Nobody has asked me to do anything. If and when I am asked, then I will give my reply.

“I love working with these lads and would like to see all of them progress to the senior Italy squad.”

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