Thursday May 31 2012
Prandelli – Italy’s unsackable Coach

No matter how Euro 2012 ends for Italy, Antonio Labbate explains why the Italian Football Federation must keep Cesare Prandelli.

Less than a day after Cesare Prandelli had named his 32-man preliminary squad and he was already being questioned about his future at the end of the European Championship. “I have a contract until 2014 and I want to respect it,” he stated from Italy’s Coverciano training base. “However, while on the bench at Euro 2012, I’ll be under examination. Like all Coaches, my fate will depend on results.”

That particular reality of football management should send a shiver down the spines of all those who hold the Italian national team in their heart. If there is one Azzurro who the country can’t afford to fail in Poland and Ukraine then that has to be Prandelli himself. That’s evident when you sit down and consider who could actually replace him should his contract be terminated before the summer is over.

That’s not to say that Italy have no great tacticians in Serie A or beyond, but those at the top of a hypothetical FIGC wish-list would be verging on the impossible to net. The likes of Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti, Roberto Mancini and Carlo Ancelotti, for example, are unlikely to be released by their present club sides.

Fabio Capello is obviously available, but he wouldn’t come cheap and he’s already stated that the Italy job holds no interest for him. That is likely to be even more the case now given that he’s tasted international management with England. Contacting Don Fabio, despite his achievements, would also be a backwards step when it comes to the kind of football he employs and what Prandelli has been working on for the last 24 months.

Udinese’s Francesco Guidolin would be a possible contender, but he’s unproven at the very highest level. He’s also recently highlighted how he sometimes struggles with the stresses and anxiety of leading a club like the Stadio Friuli outfit – how would he cope under the media spotlight at the head of the Italian national side?

With such limited options, you would expect the Federation to go old school and look to appoint from within and promote from the Under-21 set-up. Although the FIGC haven’t gone down that route since Cesare Maldini replaced Arrigo Sacchi in December 1996, on the back of him winning three European titles with the Azzurrini, such a move would have to be within the realms of possibility given the current coaching landscape.

Ferrara, though, is still relatively inexperienced even if his stint with the Italian U-21 side so far has been strong. The problem is that he’s widely remembered for being dismissed at Juventus. In 31 games on the Old Lady’s bench, he won 15, drew five and lost 11. Although the squad he had to work with in Turin was unbalanced, Ferrara would undoubtedly still be a gamble.

It is faced with this backdrop that it would make sense to keep faith with Prandelli, at all costs, no matter what happens over the next five weeks. While it is easy to pick fault with some of the players he selected in his 32-man and then 23-man squads for Euro 2012, he has at least attempted to revive Italy’s fortunes with an ultimately clear footballing philosophy after a confused and experimental start to his reign.

While Italy’s success at World Cup 2006 was constructed on the back of Marcello Lippi’s ability to create a united group, Prandelli’s team have – for the first time since Azeglio Vicini’s stint in charge up to the 1990 World Cup – regularly played an entertaining, purposeful and effective kind of football. La Nazionale, at long last, actually look comfortable on the ball.

With no guaranteed mega stars on the peninsula horizon, Italy must persist on the present path if they are to seriously challenge at World Cup 2014. With stronger nations than the Azzurri at the European Championship, Euro 2012 will probably be a stepping stone to eventually reaffirming the team’s reputation on a global stage in Brazil after the embarrassment of South Africa. Prandelli intimated that himself by taking a closer look at youngsters such as Marco Verratti, Ezequiel Schelotto and Mattia Destro last week. They’ll probably have a part to play in the future and preferably under the tutelage of Cesare Prandelli.

Have your say...
Prandelli just needs to get over his man crush on Montolivo and 'experiment' with a 3-5-2, the formation over half the national team understands. If he continues with his hapless 4-3-1-2 Giovinco needs to start over Montolivo. 3-5-2 would still benefit the team better as both Maggio and Balzaretti are more attacking fullbacks and fit the wingback position.
on the 4th June, 2012 at 3:31pm
We have all read the piece ,anonymous. There are options. Ancelotti or Allegri. You bury your head in the sand if you want. I prefer realism. The formations as proved last night are wrong. Montolivo is not up to it yet is constantly picked. I fear a disaster.
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 10:03am
It's pretty impressive how many of these comments here come from people who clearly only read the headline. Nowhere does it say that Prandelli is too good to be sacked, and nowhere does it say that Prandelli won't be sacked. It's all about the lack of options if he is. Try reading the piece first before running your mouths, people.
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 6:41am
What a load of tosh! Prandelli cannot persist with a 4-3-1-2 with Montolivo! I'm alarmed at the ease the Russians by passed our 3 man midfield and it makes me think that we'd be best suited to a 3-5-2! At least that will give us numbers in midfield to help the defence and attack, plus Pirlo will have the licence to do what he does best. With the team playing only 3 times in the last 8months the players need a formation they're gonna be comfortable with & that formation is the 3-5-2, it's logical
on the 1st June, 2012 at 11:34pm
I think Prandelli will be sacked once Italia are knocked out. Have just watched the game against Russia. A joke. Can't defend and can't score goals. I like Prandelli as a coach but I think he cannot cope. Attacking football is fine but surely you have to score goals. Defenders all over the place. The betting scandal and the behaviour of players is bringing calcio to it's knees.On plane home after first week.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 9:49pm
unsackable? you guys do really talk some tripe I have to say. for over a year, we haven't looked like hitting a barn door. I have to say we were great for 45 minutes, but were lucky due to some poor finishing by the russians. bonucci and maggio were absolutely atrocious. how maggio is ahead of abate and de sanctis picked ahead of abbiati I will never know. the midfield was terrible in first half. no cover to defenders. at this rate, we will go out with 2 draws and a defeat and no goals scored!
on the 1st June, 2012 at 9:39pm
saying that fabio c has no desire to go to italy because of being with england is like saying if i drive a 60s VW bug i wouldn't want to get back behind the seat of a ferrari. please... what fabio c did with england was monumental. without him, they'd never have qualified for the euros. prandelli's great. he was only stopped by the referee from beating bayern a few years ago. imagine: fiorentina vs. inter. they were truly the best teams after inter put barca in its place!
on the 1st June, 2012 at 7:02pm
No manager is unsackable this is italy we are talking about........managers seem to only last 6 months all depends how it goes in the euro's I mean Donadoni was ment to be the one to build but after italy were average in 08 he got the boot. Italy would not have to win for him to keep the job but they would have to show the passion and comitment required something that lacked in 2010 not only that but a nice footballing style much like they produced in the qualifiers.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 8:52am
Mazzarri is a good coach, but he has no plan B! When things go right for him his teams look great but when they struggle they're awful!

Napoli's second leg against Chelsea was tactically inept, with the players they have they should never have collapsed like that.

Italy do not need a Jekyll & Hyde character like that in charge. We need a coach that its flexible with his tactics like Conte, Ancelotti, Ferrara or Capello, should Prandelli leave after this tournament.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 8:34am
I really like Prandelli, but my one criticism of him is that he has his favourites over players that should be in the team/squad. For example, why has he ignored Abiatti & Miccoli entirely? Another thing, we're all getting excited of the prospect of seeing Giovinco or Cassano playing behind two strikers but the reality is that he'll play Montolivo who has only 4 goals and 4 assists this season compared to Giovinco's 16 goals and 11 assists and Cassano's 4 goals & 10 assists despite his lay off.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 9:42pm
although Prandelli is unreplaceable... but if a situation so arises... then Walter Mazzari would also be a good option...!!!
on the 31st May, 2012 at 9:23pm
Lets hope we have leant from 2008 after sacking Donadoni. Yes he had failed in Euro 2008 but what a backward step it was to bring back Lippi. With Prandelli we are going forward with youngsters coming through with a few old guards to asist. We many not win Euro 2012 but after the shambles of Lippi's Italy in 2010 even qualifing was a step up. Forza Italia. Forza Cesare.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 8:36pm
I believe Eddy Reja should be in contention when the look out for the next Italian manager comes along.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 8:19pm
A fantastic and refreshing article. Prandelli has values, he's working within a transitional period within the national team and people should remember that. I liked Lippi but his squad selections frustrated me. Nobody can deny him his 2006 triumph but I felt that was destiny and 2010 was his doing. A poor squad selection. Prandelli on the other hand has had me on the edge of my seat anticipating in who he is to select. I agree sacking would be backwards. Patience is needed.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 4:47pm
I'm a staunch supporter of our national team boss even in the most difficult of circumstances, but it its absolutely nonsense to call a coach unsackable. there is no such thing in football these days. If we go into the group stage and god forsakingly lose all three games, I think you would find it hard to gather support for him within the country and more importantly within the FIGC. no coach is unsackable. this country has won 5 major international trophies. we expect a QF spot at the least
on the 31st May, 2012 at 4:00pm
Mazzarri no! John is right, Italy has always had the players to play an attractive, pro-active brand of football. We have wasted so many great talents because of the counter attacking football of the past. I just wish that Prandelli was coaching when the likes of Baggio, Zola etc were playing. Mazzarri is a good man-manager, but I am not convinced by his tactical ability. His system is very predictable and he doesn't seem to have a plan b. His reluctance to field young players is also a concern
on the 31st May, 2012 at 3:38pm
good article but the thought of mancini should not even come. he always finds his pairing wrong either in attack, mid field or defence. thinking everyone can play with everybody irrespective of their characteristics.

though not a thought, but if mr P should go we should considered Ciro considering what he has don with the U21 as this is our future. dont forget the system Conteh is using is what he tried at Juve it was only becoz Juve at that time is imbalance with the likes of poulson.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 3:31pm
i think the euros will be a building block for Prandelli, hes done great work with the team, shame about rossi no being at the euros that would of made it a lot easyer on him.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 1:12pm
@Dario - What about Mazzarri? I don't think Italy need to go back to playing counter-attacking football. He's done well, but I also don't see Napoli letting go of him. There really is nobody suitable to take over from Cesare Prandelli right now.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 1:11pm
what about Mazzarri?
on the 31st May, 2012 at 12:33pm
A very good article indeed. Ok so Prandelli's Italy have still to play decent opposition in a competitive match, but still in his short tenure Prandelli has done more than enough to get the backing and support of everyone involved. He has a clear vision, deals with players and the media in a great fashion, believes in youngsters and is not biased when naming his squads (Monty is perhaps the exception but a lot of coaches seem to believe in him). So yes I agree keep him at all costs.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 11:19am
If (I hope this does not happen) but IF Prandelli leaves, than Conte or Ferrara are the only ones who could do with the kind of football Prandelli plays.. Conte is impossible, Ferrara would be easy to get.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 11:12am
I had never considered the possibility of a Prandelli replacement until reading this. You do raise some interesting points and I don't see a natural replacement for Prandelli should he, for whatever reason, no longer be in charge after the championships. I'm hopeful however that not only will he keep his job, but the Azzurri could actually be one of the pleasing surprises in the competition.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 10:06am
Excellent article! Prandelli ticks the important boxes-tactically astute, likes attacking, attractive football, great man-manager, not afraid to give youth an opportunity.He's done a great job so far!

Along with Conte, Spalletti & Guidolin, he is the best Italian coach. Mancini, Lippi, & Capello can be too pragmatic, Allegri too rigid-always 4312, and Ancelotti sides, whilst attractive to watch, have a tendency to collapse-Milans defeats to Dortmund, Deportivo, & Liverpool are evidence of this.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 9:55am
Prandelli isn't going anywhere the World Cup 2014 is over.

If he were to go I agree that all the big names you listed would be difficult to capture; therefore Ferrara wouldn't be a bad bet.

The Juve experience was unfortunate for him, but he has probably learnt alot from that experience (every coach has a bad spell, Marcello Lippi included). The U21's play great a great brand of football, he knows the youth sector well, is familiar with the set up & will have the pick of the country.
on the 31st May, 2012 at 9:42am

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