Gigi Di Biagio explained his decision to drop Moise Kean for disciplinary reasons and defended his work in six years with the Under-21 Italy squad.
They were among the favourites to win the European Championship as the host nation, but could well be out in the group stage despite a 3-1 win over Belgium.
Inevitably, the first question was about his decision to drop Juventus striker Kean, who turned up late to a team meeting along with Nicolò Zaniolo, who was suspended anyway.
“I am the Coach of a team and there are rules in a team. If the rules are not respected several times, it is the duty of a Coach to intervene,” said Di Biagio in his Press conference.
“Whether we win or not is irrelevant compared to the importance of the team.”
If Italy were to progress, would Zaniolo and Kean be welcomed back into the fold?
“I will answer that in a couple of days.”
The Azzurrini lost 1-0 to Poland, but that same team was thrashed 5-0 by Spain this evening, only increasing the regrets over that surprise defeat.
“We already explained the Poland game, as we had more shots on goal than anyone, but it wasn’t enough. We certainly should’ve converted our chances.
“There was some incredible football, but evidently we made mistakes too. It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to reward this fantastic crowd.”
Now they must wait and see if they are the best runners-up, although the odds are extremely slim.
“As long as there is 0.1 per cent possibility, I believe. It’s very difficult, but we will try to remain concentrated over the next two days. We knew the formula of the group stages and talked about it a few weeks ago, but all we can do is wait.”
Di Biagio is widely expected to move on after six largely disappointing years in charge of the Under-21 team.
“In the first Euros, it was a miracle that we qualified at all, but then could’ve done much better in the tournament itself. In the second competition, we did great things and only went out to Spain after playing the entire second half down to 10 men.
“It’s true, results count, but in my view we’ve done excellent work over the six years and sent a lot of players up to the senior squad. We followed the right path.
“If we don’t win, it’s a failure, I won’t deny that. At the same time, if that is all we think about, winning or not winning, then I give up and you have won.
“It makes no difference with regards to my future, as I have to make some decisions and we have already discussed some issues with the Federation. Again, we’ll talk about that in a separate Press conference.”
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/