Wednesday March 21 2018
Who is right for the Azzurri?

The Italy job is between Roberto Mancini, Antonio Conte, Gigi Di Biagio and Carlo Ancelotti, so Emmet Gates analyses the Azzurri candidates.

The FIGC has been in a state of flux since Italy’s disastrous failure to qualify for the World Cup. Gian Piero Ventura had little option other than to fall on his sword, although the Genoa native wasn’t in any hurry to do the honourable thing; he hesitated for 2 days before it was done for him.

The general consensus is that there are four candidates: Roberto Mancini, Antonio Conte, Carlo Ancelotti and Luigi Di Biagio. The only certainty in this period of uncertainty inside the corridors of the Italian Football Federation is that Mancini is unequivocally not the man for job.

Mancini - who was a delightfully graceful and artistic No.10 as a player - as a tactician resembles little of his former self. Mancini the manager wouldn’t be a fun proposition for any fan of the Azzurri. His sides have generally been pragmatic and reactive rather than proactive, and his appointment would be a major step back; simply a continuation of the doomed Ventura era.

The return of Conte would present an intriguing option. With the former Juve Coach almost nailed on to leave Chelsea at the end of the season, he would be free to take over. Conte, it’s reported, feels like he has unfinished business with the Azzurri following their good showing at Euro 2016 and the circumstances of his departure from the job – hastily executed by his own admission – and would give serious consideration to leading Italy to Euro 2020.

Yet Conte butted heads with many of the biggest clubs in Italy over the releasing of players for international duty and complained about the little time he had with his selection to imbed tactical schemes. These issues wouldn’t go away the second time around, so as appealing as the idea of Conte returning might sound to many, it’s perhaps best if the fiery Leccese remains in club football.

Di Biagio is viewed as the least likely candidate, however he will have the opportunity to cut his teeth in the two upcoming friendlies against Argentina and England. Di Biagio has been only relatively successful with the Azzurrini, guiding them to the semi-final of the European championships last summer, and they’ve scored 17 goals in their last four friendly games. Having said that, the squad was packed with talent going into that tournament and should’ve at least reached the Final. A similarly-strong side two years earlier didn't even get out of the group phase.

Italy, it must be said, does have a history of promoting their U-21 Coaches to the main job; Enzo Bearzot, Azeglio Vicini and Cesare Maldini all served their time at junior level before making the step up. But Maldini was the last, two decades ago, and it’s difficult to see Di Biagio breaking the drought.

The best option (and the FIGC’s preference) is Ancelotti. The former Juve and Milan manager has stated more than once in the past how he’d like to one day take the reins of Italy. Many believe the time has now come, because let’s face it, Ancelotti has held a job at nearly every top club in the European game, save Barcelona and Manchester United.

Furthermore, his style of management is well suited to the rigours of the international scene. Despite being a disciple of Arrigo Sacchi, Ancelotti is infamous for being relatively lax when it comes to tactical work, instead preferring for the players to work scenarios out for themselves.

He also learned from his days of rejecting Roberto Baggio’s move to Parma that it’s best to build a system around the available players rather than try to shoe-horn them into his specific vision.

Whilst his league record is poor in correlation to the clubs he’s managed, the same cannot be said for cups. Ancelotti almost specializes in the realm of cup competitions; small bursts of brilliance, as opposed to the long marathon of a league. No Coach has won more Champions Leagues than the eyebrow-raising wonder. It would make him the ideal tournament manager.

Whether he feels like he’s ready to take that step is another matter. Ancelotti would like to continue his time at club level, but if the FIGC really wants to stop the current rot from setting, then they must roll out the red carpet and convince Ancelotti.

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Have your say...
Capello without doubt. It's unbelievable that he doesn't become coach of a team that really needs him.
Second option, Conte.
Third option, Ancelotti.

Mancini, don't even think about him. He will be like Donadoni.
on the 28th March, 2018 at 9:40am
The MAIN problem the FIGC has with selecting a coach, is salary. FIGC can't afford Carlo, Conte or Allegri. Italia needed PUMA to pay the difference on Conte's contract last time to make up the $5,000,000 salary he earned. Coach like Conte and Carlo can make between 8-10 million a year, and the Nazionale is capped at 1 million, unless a sponsor steps in. IN Carlo's case, he's still being paid by Bayern, so he can't accept a coaching position anyways. We need a coach now.
on the 25th March, 2018 at 3:37am
Claudio Ranieri could be another option in my opinion.
on the 24th March, 2018 at 9:24am

ANCELOTTI for the "Azzurri"

GROSSO for the "Azzurrini"

Good overall plan!
on the 24th March, 2018 at 1:59am
It is ashame Guidolin isn't getting a mention here. His Udinese were beautiful to watch and he developed youngsters well. Also if Gasperini would leave Atalanta he would be a good choice.

Serie A needs Sarri at Napoli, for now, and I honestly don't understand why anyone is still thinking Conte would be a good choice. He represents more of the same, and isn't progressive in his thinking..... I think Prandelli would be better than Conte again.

Ancelotti is a no brainer
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 7:57pm
Italia has plenty of good & experienced coaches excluding (Baggio & Mancini) but the problem is not with the CT the problem is with the system. Italy's discipline must rise again to the occasion and reform itself so the whole system has to be restructured from the bottom to the top or vice versa. Italy that has a very strong presence in the WC and a super nation in football cannot accept this humiliation! Italy must rediscover itself with the amount of treasure that it has "the youngsters".
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 4:58pm
What is going on?

We'll be dead certs for the Euros with the expansion of the qualifying structure so throw in the youngsters and then let's build for the future. Ancelotti all day long, Sarri if he wins the league and how about Roberto Baggio? Okay he hasn't any experience but Italy's Maradona would be an inspiring presence. Taking Baggio out of the equation, the next manager has to have won a league to be considered. I would even take Mancini at a push, although he's now yesterday's man.
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 11:43am
Macini OUT
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 7:57am


on the 23rd March, 2018 at 3:19am
No to Mancini!! He success has been in spite of him & not because of him. Don't forget that he had the likes of Silva, Toure, Aguero, Kompany.. in their prime, yet he only won the league at the very last minute, against a much weaker Utd side. He was very fortunate at Inter & the situation that Serie A was at the time. His sides often look passive & confused. His record in Europe is also very poor when you consider the resources that he has had at his disposal.
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 11:03am
Never thought about Gentile but reading the comments here, interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Ancelotti still being paid by Bayern Munich? According to previous articles on here, the FIGC want someone high class but also on the cheap. Wouldn't CA's contract with Bayern need to be paid off until June? If there is any hope of getting him in then pay what's needed and reform Italian football to get us back up there!
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 9:24am
I hope NOT Di Biagio!
Come on!

Please, NOT Di Biagio.

Ancelotti must be the prime candidate, assuming that he really wants the job.

TOP MAN, as he is free from other commitments.
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 4:14am
I get the feeling that any coach with real integrity is staying away from the Azzurri CT job until the FIGC starts implementing major reform in Italian football.
DiBiagio is totally useless...just another yes man like sVentura.
Gentile is an interesting option, has certainly proven himself but he's disillusioned and distrusting of the FIGC and with good reason.
I don't believe Ancelotti is the right one either rather see someone young, full of energy and ideas ie. a Gattuso maybe Conte
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 4:08am
What about Rita Guarino? Her coaching style combines vicious in attack while maintaining the age old Italian formula of having that solid defense. She tends to bring her squads together and allows them to work as a unit which would help the new generation of young forwards which made their debuts under the Ventura nightmare. In addition, she coached most of these players in the U17 and has an extensive knowledge of rising stars still to hit 20. She could be what is needed for the reconstruction.
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 3:34am
Why not try Massimo Carrera from Spartak. He won 3 Scudetti with Juve as Conte's assistant/Tech.D , and won the Russian Premier League with Spartak as a Manager Last year. He's got a good system and has already been part of the NT set up, also as an assistant to Conte. He's played under Traps and Lippi, he's won every top trophy at club level you can, and was also a capped once (Azzurri) under Sacchi. The other coaches will leave millions in earnings on the table if they go to the NT.
on the 22nd March, 2018 at 1:11am
2/2....1 draw 4 losses. and 1 loss was to Novara Serie B newcomers,and a loss to Trabzonspor in Champions league. was immediately fired before causing anymore embarrassment. Hell, I’d rather have Lippi back. what Ventura did was even worse than Lippi 2nd spell. So anyone less than top 3 mentioned is waste of time and money. I like Gentile as dark horse.former WC winner as player, and has Azzurri pride in his blood as u21 coach winning 2004 euros,Bronze @ Olympics. No WC, Dark days for Azzurri.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:06pm
Seems like FIGC is trying to temp Ancelotti with a big salary. Sad cuz hes really on fence and said he’d rather coach a top club. prolly waiting for Arsenal or PSG to come calling,and clearly doesn’t want to come back to Italy. for me Mancini would be great coach. tough disciplined, and strategic CT who still wants to win something. Gasperini ? ...please NO. it’s a steps backwards to Ventura territory. last time Gasperini was given reigns of big club? was Inter and went WINLESS in 5 games ...
on the 21st March, 2018 at 10:45pm
Still can’t believe we’re not going to the World Cup. What a disaster. A country like Italy with proud traditions steeped in history in world football. The federation are going backwards, I haven’t seen any developments or signs to see we are moving with the times. Spain, Germany both changed their philosophy and it worked. A top coach won’t change anything if we have hardly any talent coming through. Donnarumma is awful, Cutrone is overrated, Rugani never plays for Juve even that Tarkowski 1/2
on the 21st March, 2018 at 8:39pm
Ancelotti is the only correct choice, but even if Carlo is convinced, it will just be papering over the cracks that are killing Italian football.
It's very telling that our prestigious managers who "dream" of coaching the Nazionale have to be all but dragged to the position of CT.
I don't believe Carlo will take the position unless he has guarantees about the "new" direction of the FIGC.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 4:38pm
Mancini 'unequivocally' not being the man for the job is clearly not a certainty 'inside the corridors of the Italian football federation' because he is one of the leading candidates, which you mention in the previous sentence.

The suitability of these candidates is a matter of opinion. You could have just mentioned an actual fact being the 'only certainty' rather than shoehorning your opinion that way. Very bizarre.

Mancini is a top coach and would bring back our defensive steel.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 3:32pm
Carlo commands respect but Conte commands everything! I go with Conte, but there are other excellent coaches in Italy like at Sampdoria and Fiorentina, that I wouldn't think badly of should they get the job.

Sarri? I don't think his tactics are wise for a national team with lack of time together to get it to gel like at Napoli. Spain managed it because they had a Barca and Real Madrid backbone, both who play expansive quality attacking football.

Mancini. No. Spalletti? If ONLY!!!
on the 21st March, 2018 at 2:58pm
Ancellotti has the kudos to bring youngsters through . Am going to the Argentina game with a big banner saying ‘vergogna figc’ after the awful appointment and failure by all concerned in not qualifying for the World Cup! The only way to redeem themselves in my eyes is to appoint Ancelotti and stop the politics, give clubs a boost in promoting young Italian players and build a legacy through all italy teams allowing progression into the A team. As they do in germany!
on the 21st March, 2018 at 1:55pm
Anyone but Mancini. The last thing we need is that little snake.

Conte would be a good option, specially that he's free in the summer. But he needs to reach an agreement with the clubs and plan a schedule ahead of time.

Ancelotti seems like the better option, but I have a feeling he's not that hungry anymore. But who knows, might be different with the national team.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 12:36pm
2/2: I like that we stick to only having Italians managing the national side. Something about having a national team manager of the same nationality which can't be beaten for passion and desire. Plenty of top quality Italian managers being produced so long may it continue. Sad not going to the WC but we're on the up with a promising group of youngsters just needing the right CT and tactics. We'll be back, look at Germany, France and Spain. goes in cycles and we're next to rise. Forza Italia!
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:59am
1/2: Maybe bit harsh on Mancini. Not that I think he'll do a bad job for Italy, but there's others I'd much rather see get the job ahead of him. If Mancini is the chosen one then I'll back him, or whoever else gets it. Looks like CA is everyone's pick, no surprise though. Zaccheroni? Decent with Japan but an average overall managerial record, can't see him excelling in this role. Then again Zoff had no experience and look how well we did in Euro 2000 with him.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:55am
Allegri - great option but he is not going to leave club football yet.
Ancelotti - best option, the only issue he more of a selector than a team builder.
Conte - loves to pick weaker players and play the victim like euro 2016 and leaves the second it goes wrong or a big club asks for him, we dont need that.
Di Biagio - not done enough to deserve it. Still picks Parolo, Candreva, Darmian? And the retired guard Chellini, Buffon? Ignoring Balotelli... clearly shows he isn't a big enough character.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:54am
I thought the World Cup Failure is suppose to be a benchmark for a new beginning for Italian Football ?. But putting Di Biaggio on the Bench and for him still calling up Buffon shows nothing is learned.

No matter who the coach is, without a real plan it will still be failure.

Buffon, i respect, but you said you are retired i dont understand why the comeback. And Balotelli has been great all season so why is he out ? Dressing Room ? what a crappy excuse for a Coach to make.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:45am
I thought the World Cup Failure is suppose to be a benchmark for a new beginning for Italian Football ?. But putting Di Biaggio on the Bench and for him still calling up Buffon shows nothing is learned.

No matter who the coach is, without a real plan it will still be failure.

Buffon, i respect, but you said you are retired i dont understand why the comeback. And Balotelli has been great all season so why is he out ? Dressing Room ? what a crappy excuse for a Coach to make.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:44am
I think it's bit hash for Mancini what you wrote.

He can addapt his tactics to suit the squad, at City, Inter and Zenit he has played 433, 4231, 343, 352, 442 and 4411.

He is pragmatic, but his City side did play really really well.

Bud I agree that Ancelotti would be a great pick, and he would be my pick too.

But i guess my old dream of Zaccheroni as Italy manager i over.

He could at been a interesting pick,
on the 21st March, 2018 at 11:04am
Ancelotti please, best man for the job. Proven success with some of the best clubs around in the top leagues. FIGC should go all out to tempt Carlo sooner rather than later in his career. If this just can't happen then I'd like to see Sarri get it, and in future who knows? Simone Inzaghi? Gattuso if he carries on as he is at Milan? (forgetting his previous managerial record, Allegri? Rather not Mancini. Long shot Gasperini considering his Atalanta success? Rather Ancelotti of course above all.
on the 21st March, 2018 at 9:58am

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