Tuesday May 15 2018
Mancini can steady the ship

The Azzurri have taken an important step by appointing Roberto Mancini, a rather unspectacular, but solid choice, writes Vilizar Yakimov.

The wait is finally over. It took much longer than anyone would thought, but Italy finally found a new Coach to lead the team into the new era, as Roberto Mancini has been confirmed as the new Azzurri boss more than six months after the elimination by Sweden.

Gian Piero Ventura’s horror show has been extremely painful for all fans of Italian football, but the truth is that missing out on the World Cup actually highlighted issues that might’ve been neglected otherwise. Just a few days ago the Italian football federation made an important step forward by announcing that B-Teams of Serie A clubs will be included in Lega Pro for the 2018-19 season and now they’ve made another one by confirming Mancio as the new Coach of Azzurri.

It is true that the former Inter tactician was not first choice and his appointment would probably raise some eyebrows, but the 53-year-old was a magnificent player, has enough experience in top clubs and there is no doubt that he commands respect. Those are all factors that weren’t there during Ventura’s reign and while it would be wrong to compare Mancini with the ex-Torino boss, the new Italy manager brings much more optimism than Ventura ever did.

Yes - there were probably more popular and likable options like Carlo Ancelotti or Antonio Conte, but after all, if Carletto didn’t want to coach a national team and Conte didn’t want to follow the rules, were there really any better candidates than Mancio?

His trophy cabinet includes two Scudetti, one Premier League title, four Coppa Italia cups, an FA Cup, Community Shield and one Turkish Cup. It is true that Mancini has failed to shine in any international competitions so far, but he was always known for his ability to build a solid foundation in a team as well as for his intolerance towards any unhealthy behaviour in the locker room.

A clear example for the Italian’s hard-ball approach was the substitution of Mario Balotelli in 2011 at Manchester City, when during a summer friendly the striker attempted an arrogant backheel when being one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Mancini understandably went completely berserk and took Super Mario off the field right after the incident.

Ironically, there is a pretty good chance that Mancini will be the man who will revive Balotelli’s career in the Nazionale, as the inability of the likes of Ciro Immobile, Andrea Belotti and Lorenzo Insigne to replicate their club form in an Azzurri jersey has opened the door for other players to step in.

Many were blaming Ventura for not starting Insigne in both games against Sweden, and while they had a point, let’s be honest, would his inclusion in the starting XI miraculously turn Italy into a great side?

The truth is that Insigne is not Roberto Baggio, nor is Immobile Pippo Inzaghi, so nobody should be expecting them to bang goals out of nothing. Mancini is smart enough to know that and he should also give a chance to new players as well as older ones like Balotelli or Sebastian Giovinco, who were ignored during Ventura’s reign.

However, putting the attacking woes aside, the biggest riddle that Mancini should solve is the goalkeeper position. Gianluigi Buffon’s expected retirement at the end of the year would have an extremely big impact, not only on Juventus, but on the wholeof Italian football.

Italy’s tradition demands that the national team should be built from the back, so finding the right man between the sticks would be Mancini’s big test. Whether this would be Mattia Perin, Gianluigi Donnarumma or somebodyelse, the manager needs to make sure that the new goalkeeper should be in the right state of mind.

There are many question marks surrounding the defence and the midfield, but regardless of the players that Mancini will choose, there is little doubt that he would be listened to and in control of the situation. There were reports suggesting that Andrea Pirlo might become Mancio’s assistant manager and if that is true, the Maestro’s presence would be a huge morale and motivational boost for the players.

Just like any new project, the shaping of the new Azzurri will take time and considering that Mancini’s teams were never known for their fluidity or attractive football, there will surely be games, that would give plenty of reasons for pessimism. Therefore, the key factors for the revival of Squadra Azzurra will obviously be hard work, but even most importantly patience.

Despite that he has his flaws as a manager and he has failed to win a major international trophy on a club level, Roberto Mancini has what it takes to build solid foundations for the future. After all, at the moment nobody is expecting from Italy to win the World Cup, they just need to qualify for it.

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Have your say...
Giovinco could be very important for the Azzurri and their new beginning. It's such a shame that a player of the highest quality like Sebastian Giovinco isn't considered for the national team anymore!
on the 14th June, 2018 at 1:47am
Giovinco could be very important for the Azzurri and their new beginning. It's such a shame that a player of the highest quality like Sebastian Giovinco isn't considered for the national team anymore!
on the 14th June, 2018 at 1:46am
Could be a great choice. He has a tendency to take the game out of his players' hands, even tho he's had great players and great teams. But I could see this working.

El Shaarawy has great talent, but has only shown glimpses over the last 4 years. And Berardi is maybe Italy's biggest talent. He's gotta be there. And Inter should really be moving for him this Summer.
on the 24th May, 2018 at 2:52pm
Giovinco needs to be included at some point, the fact that one of italys best attackers has been excluded for so long blows my mind. If Villa was good enough to be called for spain then so is Gio for Italy. He's got a few more years left to shine. its a pride thing though, how would it look if gio played amazing and showed that italys best player is in toronto. mancini give him a chance!!
on the 23rd May, 2018 at 7:23pm
In response to "TO". As a big roma fan EL sha in my view lacks consistency. He was fantastic at the start of the season for us in particular in the Chelsea home game but has since gone off the boil. There is no doubting the quality EL Sha has, the challenge for him is to improve his consistency. If you can do that then he will start consistently for Roma and give himself a chance to get a call up for Italy. Also delighted that Parolo, Candreva and Darmian aren't in the squad. All dead wood.
on the 23rd May, 2018 at 12:36pm
Am I the only one outraged at El Sharawaays exclusion? I feel he is far more skilled and advanced than politano, Verdi, and berardi. Everyone moans about calling young players but if they aren’t good enough why should they get called because of their age? Other than that the call ups seem good. Ok curiosa how benassi would do in the team. So glad to see darmian, candreva and parolo not there!! DiBiagio figures he would land the job picking the same players who failed against Sweden
on the 23rd May, 2018 at 5:45am
My 30 squad if all fit:

Donnarumma, Perin, Sirigu, Meret (to train with the squad).

Bonucci, Chiellini, Caldara, Criscito, De Sciglio, Spinazzola, Palmieri, Romagnoli, Rugani, Conti.

Baselli, Bonaventura, Cristante, Verratti, Jorginho, Florenzi, Marchisio, Mandragora, Pellegrini

Balotelli, Belotti (a lot to prove), Berardi, Chiesa, Insigne, Politano, Verdi, Cutrone.

No Bernardeschi don't rate him at all.
on the 22nd May, 2018 at 10:01am
Can we have a blog on Mancinis first squad selections. Overall I am very happy with the selections. If fit Meret, Chiellini, Spinazzola and Verratti should in my view all be in the squad. I think Mancini would have called them all up. I would get rid of D Ambrosio and Immobile. How Immobile is any where near the squad god knows. He scores in serie A but is woeful for Italy. Not good enough. Cutrone in ahead of him. The rest of the squad selections I like a lot.
on the 22nd May, 2018 at 9:54am
ON the bright side Mancini has had experience abroad in the EPL,THE TURKISH LEAGUE SUPERLIG,AND RUSSIAN PREM LEAGUE.ALL THOSE EXTERNAL traits have broaden his mindset and given him the ambition to go about it with an open mind and to think outside the box...And I truly believe this ITALIAN SQUAD WILL COME BACK WITH A VENGEANCE AND GRIT.NEVER SAY DIE ATTITUDE.
on the 21st May, 2018 at 3:09am

"it also doesn't help that Italian football is failing to produce enough quality coaches"

Have you been sleeping recently. There are more Italians coaching abroad and other international sides than any other nations coaches.
on the 19th May, 2018 at 9:22am
PrimoCalcio, it's not accurate to say sweeping changes have not been made. We don't even have a president yet. B teams in Serie B and C are now going to be a reality. These things can't change over night in Italy but that is a big change already. So give it time.
on the 19th May, 2018 at 9:18am
2/2 competition in the opening rounds which gets played up far too often, then go conservative when it matters. Wake UP! There's nothing negative about it, it's as much about not giving up opportunities as it is taking yours. Things slim up in the knock outs and that is why teams that can convert low % chances end up winners. It's not complicated. Don't give a lot of opportunities to score, and then have high conversion specalists in form for when you get your limited chances!
on the 19th May, 2018 at 9:13am
1/2 Ancelotti wanted 5million+ to coach and a long term contract, not a $2m + 2years with bonuses. He ruled himself out. The Sombrero guy sounds like a kid who plays too much Fifa and hook line and sinker takes the negative football bait. Every team gets negative in knock out rounds, even if Italy was anything but in 06. It's par for the course in tournaments. Brazil, Portugal, England, Germany, Argentina all do it to varying degrees deep in tournaments. Some of them turn it on vs lesser
on the 19th May, 2018 at 9:10am
To Tardelli 82, well pointed!
on the 19th May, 2018 at 9:02am
"Italy has never been a team of allstars but of a collective. We have enough it just take the right lead to lead them. Thats what italy has been good at."

06 - Totti, Del Piero, Pirlo, Cannavaro, Nesta, Zambrotta, Buffon, Gattuso were all "all stars"

02 - Buffon, Maldini, Cannavaro, Nesta, Vieri, Totti, Del Piero, Zambrotta ditto

94 - Baresi, Baggio, Maldini, Peruzzi, Zola and so forth

And yes, when Italy is unbeatable it's all down to the collective, so agreed there.
on the 19th May, 2018 at 9:01am
No Ranieri? 2015–16 Premier League championship winning manager with Leicester City. Leicester. City. He wanted the job, didn't he??
on the 18th May, 2018 at 9:01pm
all critics of mancini should rethink what they say, first and foremost he took the job at a considerable pay cut which that in it off itself is more than admirable and honorable. Thats least to say about everyone else in sports today vying for top dollar. secondly he is a guy that can transform a team with the crop italy have. italy has never been a team of allstars but of a collective. We have enough it just take the right lead to lead them. Thats what italy has been good at.
on the 18th May, 2018 at 8:37pm
@anonymous I understand plenty. Why knock a former great player, and winning coach,only guy with heart and balls to take the job? He’s the absolute right choice considering the shambles Italian Calcio is in. Again who would ya rather have Di biagio, DeBiasi, F.Inzagi ? pfft. Capello too old now,Ancelotti wants all star team.
It’s 2018 there’s no golden generation in sight,game attendance is at all time low,FIGC have no clue,paid Ventura 6million NOT to qualify...things seem corrupt as ever.
on the 18th May, 2018 at 5:36am
Mancini=Predicable,good luck with this appointment.!!
on the 17th May, 2018 at 11:53am
Agree with @Mil_Int ...
on the 17th May, 2018 at 10:06am
If u don’t like Allegri’s style of play at Juventus then ‘oh boy’ you gonna like it much less Mancini’s style for Italy. The problem is that with the players at our disposal we got two choices; either go with good managers like Sarri , EDF , Inzaghi ( even Prandelli was good) but not win anything, or go with ones like Allegri, Mancini , Capello , even Ancelotti play horrible football and still not win anything, I’d rather go for the formers and avoid the others at all costs!!!! Dark days ahead!
on the 17th May, 2018 at 2:07am
&Anonymous#3 while I like what you’re suggesting, unfortunately there are no Baggios and Maldinis, like we had in ‘90, or Albertinis and D. Baggios, like at the following WC, anywhere on the horizon. A lot of that is due to clubs bypassing Italian talent, but that’s a story for another day. What we need now is a strong core not influenced by any ‘Senatori’ nonsense so that the Azzurri can go back to being based on meritocracy.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 9:15pm
@Dan won’t deny that it made it easier for Inter, but at the same time you can only beat what’s placed in front of you and Mancini did that to great effect. Regarding Marwood and Branca, where are they? Their absence tells me where the wider opinion lies regarding their role in Inter’s and City’s success, so let’s agree to disagree on that. What matters to me more is that you are a fellow lover of all things calico and we can certainly agree on that. Let’s give Mancio a chance. Forza Azzurri!!
on the 16th May, 2018 at 9:06pm
As a club manager I am not a Mancini fan but this is international football which is oh so different and as a great player and ex international I have the feeling that he could succeed. There are so many examples of great club managers stinking as international managers ie Capello, Trapatoni. The likes of Voeller, Rijkaard, Klinsmann, Maradona did ok when managing their countries with little or no experience at the time. He also 1st hand knows how maverick players are ignored by int. managers.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 4:08pm
Ancelotti didn't want the job so move on.Mancini did want the job with pay cut.Give him time and I think he will do well.We will come back stronger than before.We do have the players.Clubs need to help as well.Pride has been hurt for missing WC but believe me,it will not happen again.I am optimistic as I have seen us in a very similar situation before.It is only a question of mentality which RM needs to transmit and we will win again.We are not at the WC only because of Ventura, end of.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 1:02pm
on the 16th May, 2018 at 12:49pm
Back @ Mil_Int So afford me the opportunity to retort. In 5 words, the under 21 team. Build them up. As Coach Vicini did in Italia 90. He grew the under 21 team in the late 80’s and produced one of the greatest teams in the modern era. It’s a process that takes time, commitment, and sacrifice. Also, I am sure a few of the ones you mentioned would remain for stability and mentoring. Would you agree??
on the 16th May, 2018 at 12:34pm
Mil_Int, with all due respect, you're incorrect about Mancini signing the players at City. City, for a long time now, have used the continental model of a director of football. First there was Brian Marwood, he was then replaced by Begiristain in 2012. Mancini frequently moaned about the clubs transfer policy, particularly towards the end of his tenure. I desperately want him to do well, I just struggle to see any facets within his skill-set that he excels at.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 11:33am
Mil_Int, yes, Valencia did do well, but did they win 4 consecutive league and cup doubles in addition to reaching 2 CL finals? You're right, the standard in the league is roughly the same, but the hobbling of Juve & Milan certainly made things easier for Inter. Plus they also picked up Ibra from Juve. If Branca scouted and then sanctioned the signings of the majority of the squad that went on to win the treble, then yes, I believe that he deserves great credit.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 11:17am
2/2 any world class players. Ancelotti wouldnt take on a project like this because it is set to fail. There are no players left of any real quality. Belotti should be playing in Europe instead hes at Torino playing against the 'mighty' Serie A giants!! It's a joke and the fact Mancini first comment was Balotelli tells us all what to expect. Serie A needs reform and until that we need to brace ourselves for years of pain...
on the 16th May, 2018 at 10:39am

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