Roberto Mancini explained his embrace of quality football and why Italy cannot limit their ambitions. “I want to win Euro 2020 and the World Cup.”
The CT sat down for a long interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, covering a range of topics.
“It was a serious problem that the Italian people no longer felt affection for the Nazionale, because this is everyone’s team and has given us all moments of incredible joy.
“When we arrived, the players and fans were demoralised, because we’d never seen Italy fail to qualify for a World Cup. Unfortunately, these things can happen, football is like that, and the Coach isn’t always the only one at fault.
“When we started working here, nobody believed we’d be able to break out of the tunnel. People told me ‘you don’t have any decent players.’
“However, Italy will always churn out talented players. It’s one of the few elements we’ve always been able to rely on. You might have a period without a phenomenon like Francesco Totti or Alessandro Del Piero, but talented players are always there.
“Besides, there are only two real phenomenal players out there today and they are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Other than them, I see no teams that are out of reach. France might be further ahead of the rest, as they won the World Cup and have a very young squad, but the others are all reconstructing.
“Therefore, we mustn’t set any limits to our ambitions. I want to win the European Championship and the World Cup. We haven’t won the Euros since 1968, so there is even more reason for us to push for that.
“Right now, our main focus is to improve our position in the FIFA ranking, as we have a year to go. If some more players emerge from now until Euro 2020, then we can try to integrate him.
“The important thing is that the lads enjoy their football, because if you are unhappy and irritable, clearly you can’t give your best in those circumstances.
“When you represent Italy, you ought to feel joy, emotion and a sense of honour. That is what I see in my players.”
Mancini also pushed for a more possession-based style of football than the one seen under Giampiero Ventura or caretaker manager Gigi Di Biagio.
“We had to put a team together quickly that could understand each other straight away, so quality helps in those situations. I saw the games played by Di Biagio with Marco Verratti and Jorginho together, and I really liked this approach.
“I thought it would work if I added someone more physical, then found Nicolò Barella and Stefano Sensi, who are little football quantity surveyors too. They understand each other right away.”
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