Friday September 7 2018
Mancini the motivator

Roberto Mancini is looking to revive Italy both on the pitch and at Coverciano, writes Richard Hall.

‘Mancini’s gotta a feeling, that tonight’s going to be a good night.’ Well, so say the Black Eyed Peas, who are on his motivational playlist - a new innovation for Italy training we learned about this week.

This isn’t the only change Mancio has made since taking charge of the Azzurri, all of them intentionally implemented to try and reinvigorate the Italian national team after their failure to qualify for the World Cup. New methods and a new team, one that will hope to start a rebirth of the Azzurri against Poland in Bologna in their first Nations League game tonight.

Marcello Lippi spoke in this morning’s Gazzetta Dello Sport, saying “it’s a beautiful idea to have Giorgio Chiellini raise the youngsters.” All of the papers certainly seem to be full of enthusiasm for the new Nations League, and the fact that new format coincides with a rebirth of the national team.

Mancini has certainly been attempting to do things differently, from more relaxed training methods to a more obvious presence at games to a squad selection that gives a new message. No matter if you are old, young, have been ostracised or have ever played before, there is a place in this new and better-balanced Italy.

There were smiles in training as the players played small games to the backdrop of Queen, The Killers and Clean Bandit. The more relaxed approach is perhaps to take off the pressure, although there is no doubt that with Mancini, the rigorous hours of tactical work without the ball would have still been there. Perhaps this is why he has Coldplay on the track list.

The CT has selected his squad by attending an plenty of Serie A games so far, and his presence has been well advertised, making most of the League’s Italians feel as though they have had a chance to impress. It is this idea of inclusion that’s key, from the players to the fans and media.

The squad selection backed this up. While there were many names who would be expected to be there - Gigi Donnarumma, Giorgio Chiellini, Jorginho, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne, among others - there are some surprises. Leonardo Bonucci, is one of the old guard who has arguably improved since he came back to Juventus, and his inclusion proves that there you're never too old to make the squad. His experience gives balance and helps the younger players. Others like Andrea Belotti, Roberto Gagliardini, Mattia Perin and Daniele Rugani have either played little football or have not been in form. Their selections are a show of faith that the CT will still believe in a player’s ability and give them a chance, regardless of their club situations.

Fiorentina full-back Cristiano Biraghi also gets a call-up, his first at the age of 26. With the return of Mario Balotelli, the prodigal son is back to being Italy's great hope, with Mancini arguably the man who has most consistently got him to perform.

The expected 4-3-3 offers excitement, but Mancini has made it clear the tactical system is not as important as the players’ attitude. The CT is aware that there is much work to do in remoulding the Azzurri into a squad who are hard to beat and have that tournament mentality they were once so famed for. On paper, there is much to be excited about as the mix of youth experience and squad team players is good. The Azzurri look like they can have a strong defensive unit with ball-playing midfielders and quick and creative wingers either side of several striking options.

Now, as Mancini tries to get the nation back as one and behind the Azzurri, he will look to be inclusive and adaptable. The idea that the players always have a chance to be picked and have been well scouted is clear. All he wants in return is a good attitude on and off the pitch and to be motivated at all times. In the words of Mancini’s playlist, if all his players ‘come with me now’ then all the other teams will ‘run for cover’.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports.

Have your say...
I can not understand why Mancini got the job,sorry i do remember why. All other managers which are half decent are already employed.Yes Italy have done it again employ an over rated manager again.
There is only one manager that can take the AZZURRI back to a decent level is ........MAX ALLEGRI .Even if MA was a part time manager for Italy you would see an improvement in play.
In terms of motivation,once players put on the national jersey, that should be enough motivation.
on the 9th September, 2018 at 9:18am
Hello , Nothing will change, there are maybe a decade away to returning to glory, if they are able to develop their youth. There Iwill be many painful years ahead. I do not see this national team going anywhere.
on the 9th September, 2018 at 4:52am
There is an article on this very site say italy don't have a Hitman... i have been saying that for years and the answer to this problem from Roberto Mancini is..... Mario Balotelli, i mean cooooome on really. I don't want to put the failure only on Balotelli because the whole team literally sucks but he is there to score and he doesn't. Yes Italy has little options but absolutely anything is better than him, he can't even sort his club football out he hasn't had pre-season why is he there!
on the 9th September, 2018 at 12:00am
I can't stand Mario Balotelli. But thats another discussion. Mancini is completely clueless i mean the fact he arrived and the first thing he did was include balotelli tells you everything.
He has changed nothing. Insigne is worse than before, Balotelli is still doing nothing and for some reason still there, nothing creative from any part of this team, nothimg from hugh balls,low balls, midfield nowhere.
Strange thing of this is Balotelli will be there again in a few days..
on the 8th September, 2018 at 11:52pm
Everyone plays Italy the same, stout defense and wait for the counter attack. Italy is absolutely clueless how to score a goal.High crosses, wish full balls. Can anyone score a free kick? it is too easy for the opposing defense. we need some creativity. AHHHHHHH! hard to watch.
on the 8th September, 2018 at 4:09pm
Insigne is also hopeless for Italy, so overated its incredible. He never delivers anything. He has had enough chances now time to look at other options. Every Italy match has the same pattern, we hardly create anything, on the odd occasions we create a chance we cant score. Since losing to spain 3-0 every game we have played as been awful, same pattern, no creativity or fluency or any kind of belief. Obviously not making the world cup affected players psychologically, players anxious last night.
on the 8th September, 2018 at 1:34pm
Donnarumma, Chiellini also had good games. No creativity or cutting edge, the same problems. We cant score goals and we don't create anything. Poland are average at best yet we where in my view overall lucky to get a draw. Immobile is terrible for Italy, if people think he is the answer they are deluded. Hopefully we will see changes for the Portugal game and a big improvement. I know its early days but I question if we will ever challenge again for a euro title or world cup.
on the 8th September, 2018 at 1:29pm
I have gone from excitement to despair. I thought the performance last night was awful. Balotelli has missed pre season and first 3 games for nice so shouldn't have started. We couldn't pass the ball, we made endless mistakes like on polands goal, we looked nervous and edgy and lacked any creativity or composure. We barely created anything in 90 minutes. Pellegrini was non existant, Jorginho made endless mistakes, against any decent team we get turned over. Chiesa was great, he need to start.
on the 8th September, 2018 at 1:24pm
Mancini is trash, how can you start with Balotelli? he is the worst player in the team. And Why bench Imobille? He the best Striker in italy.

Emerson should be a stater at the left back.

And Please we need Rugani, Romagnoli & Caldara in the team. no more Bonuci & Chielini pleaseee

They need to give the ball more to jorginho, He should be the center of the team play, Please no useless running.
on the 8th September, 2018 at 8:42am
Did most of the people commenting see the game, but as usual, Insigne was trash and average, Balotelli was worse. He can't even dominate that brainless thug Glik and co - imagine playing against better defences of France, Germany, Croatia etc.

Again, Jorginho flopped miserably. It should've been either Chiesa or Bernardeschi scoring that penalty, not Jorginho.

Mancini I feel is not good. He's not got a thinking head on him, and with him we won't go far and certainly not back to glory days...
on the 8th September, 2018 at 7:40am
Well... there you have it. 1-1 with the mighty Poland. What happens when we meet a team that can actually play football we will get eaten alive. Disgraceful. I dont care if Mancini has had 3 games or 20 games we are a mess.
We need a miracle to become one of the greats again.
on the 7th September, 2018 at 10:03pm
Mancini is better than Conte & Ventura already, why? Because he is building a team for the future and not afraid to pick youth which is something we haven't done in numbers since 1990.

Chellini is our best defender right now so I get why he starts vs Poland but at 34 I don't feel starting him and Bonucci at 31 is benefiting the talented duo of Romagnoli and Caldara - both have the potential to eclipse Chellini and Bonucci.

With the WC22 in mind, Criscito at 31 also should be overlooked!
on the 7th September, 2018 at 5:24pm
Generally delighted with the squad selections. When fit I hope to see De Sciglio, Conti, Spinazzola, Florenzi and Verratti. I would have called Cutrone and Kean (he has been exceptional for under 19 in the euros and under 20 last night). Also hoep to see Meret when fit. Mancini has shown balls with his selections, hopefully this will continue in the future. I just pray clubs start to play more Italian players, this is the real issue, shame on the clubs. Really excited about tonights game.
on the 7th September, 2018 at 5:22pm
Hoping for good performances. But expecting that the team still needs time to grow together. Will be interesting either way.
on the 7th September, 2018 at 4:43pm
mancini is trash, most overrated coach this decade
on the 7th September, 2018 at 2:58pm

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