Tuesday June 24 2014
Time for the Italy blame game

Italy crashed out of the World Cup with the usual mix of controversy, regret and ugly recrimination, writes Susy Campanale.

That’s the end of that, then. Our World Cup in Brazil is already over and ultimately lasted no longer than that of England or Spain. We just prolonged our agony a little bit longer with that cruel sense of hope that we could do it. We could’ve done it. But we didn’t. Now Cesare Prandelli has resigned along with the President of the FIGC and the knives are out in force. It’s going to get ugly.

It was already ugly during the game with Uruguay, but let’s forego Luis Suarez and his dire need for both psychological help and dentistry. He’ll get his comeuppance with a lengthy ban and by the looks of it some sore teeth. You don’t bite Giorgio Chiellini – it’s like trying to munch on granite. Even Claudio Marchisio’s ludicrous straight red wasn’t the real reason for our downfall, although it certainly didn’t help.

I’m sad to see Prandelli go, but we all knew agreeing a two-year contract extension before the tournament was a pretty show for the cameras, one nobody truly believed. There’s no such thing in Italy as backing a Coach regardless of results. Now we’re back to square one, also known as the Blame Game Bear Pit.

Mario Balotelli was bound to get the worst of it and he really didn’t aid his cause with the kind of performance his critics always accuse him of. Petulant, sluggish, frustrated, Prandelli substituted Mario for his own protection as much as for Italy’s chances of qualification. He didn’t get sent off, but he may as well have done.

His attitude after the match only made matters worse, walking out to sit on the team bus by himself while all the other players waited for Prandelli to return from his Press conference. The openness with which his teammates and Coach criticised him to the media suggest he must’ve done something truly awful at half-time. I’m sure it’ll emerge in due course.

Mario is an infuriating figure precisely because he has everything required to be a champion. He’s got physique, a great touch, a powerful shot, is strong in the air and very quick. Unfortunately, like Adriano before him, the mentality is just not there. You get the feeling he doesn’t enjoy playing football and that is the worst possible thing in this profession. He had it against England and we thought that Balo had finally matured, but it was a mere blip. Like the possibility of qualification, the hope dangled before us makes it all the more painful when we fall into the pit.

Yet Balotelli seemed like the only constant in an ever-changing team and Prandelli dived into the World Cup with a million ideas, but never settled on one. Being versatile is useful in international football, but three times he fielded line-ups that had never been used before, not even in friendlies. You’re supposed to experiment before a tournament, not in the middle of it. Balotelli and Ciro Immobile could work in theory, but they were thrown together in a crunch match against a consolidated Uruguay as perfect strangers.

Marco Verratti and Andrea Pirlo together in a dual playmaker system was an idea I really liked, but again one that should’ve been worked on many months ago. The Paris Saint-Germain talent has been on the scene for a while and there was no reason to wait this long, when Pirlo was on the verge of international retirement, to use them together. Now we’ll never know what they could’ve achieved as a pair.

We’ll never see Pirlo in an Azzurri shirt again. Just think about that for a moment. It’s much more depressing than going out of a World Cup.

Prandelli’s whole approach in Brazil felt half-assed. Antonio Cassano, Matteo Darmian and Lorenzo Insigne were last-minute additions to the squad, which again prompted the Coach to reshuffle his plans. Giuseppe Rossi was not fit enough for a major tournament, I’ll agree with Cesare on that one, but it didn’t entirely look as if Cassano was in any better shape. Plus Rossi with one leg would’ve run more than Balotelli did.

It’s interesting in his Press conference that Prandelli complained the Nazionale was being treated like a political party. He’s not wrong, as everybody agrees on the need for reform and revolution, only they cannot decide on how that should be done and so we just stand there arguing about the best way to swim as the Titanic sinks beneath us.

No matter who takes over, the next Coach will be in the same situation eventually. It’s not a job anyone should aspire to.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Cassano really should now just be left in peace to play out the remainder of his days with a provincial club, and should never grace the big time again. I would call it a waste of talent, but it has so rarely been evident I'm wondering if it ever even existed.

In 6 or 7 years we'll be saying the same sorts of things of Balotelli.
on the 7th July, 2014 at 12:32am
2014 World Cup version of the Azzurri was shameful. Prandelli outcoached himself. Players especially the forwards had no clue on how to give & go or serve each other.It was embarrassing. Balotelli display of childness on the pitch was sinful. Unworthy players like Thiaggo Motta & Paletta should never be in the selection. The players lacked the heart, the will & the skill to succeed. Every nation in this year's World Cup showed the Azzurri up. No cohesion on the field. Azzurri hit rock bottom.
on the 30th June, 2014 at 4:00am
I cant understand the selection of Marchisio, especially as an attacking player to support Balo. He was the 4th choice midfielder for Juve but his name is always in on pen for Italy. Candreva is another strange choice. Despite one scoring and the other assisting, both these player should never have been handed the responsibility of attacking support for Balo, both lacking innovation, technique and magic.
on the 29th June, 2014 at 7:05pm
If anyone here that follows the Azzurri rates Motta better than a Seria B player need to have their brain examined.
on the 29th June, 2014 at 9:21am
I don't think the players really bought into the entire concept Prandelli offered. I don't think they played hard in Brasil.

Ultimately, the players played 'stupidly' that indicates they were going to lose. When the Italian team plays with conviction, 2006 can be a result. I just want them to play hard and with conviction. We did not see that this tournament.
on the 27th June, 2014 at 4:03am
Balo is like a much more talented, much more volatile version of Adebayor - you know he can be a brilliant world-beater but you never know how long for. Cassano, on the other hand, is just an idiot.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 7:32pm
By following these 3 steps it stops Italian football falling further behind the leagues mentioned below. It attracts premium talent again which increases TV, gate and merchandise receipts and has the added benefit of improving Italian players as they would be playing against them week in week out. Is this a quick fix - no but since the rot in the Italian game did not happen overnight don't expect an overnight solution. As for will it happen, again no as we haven't had our Hillsborough...YET.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 3:07pm
1. If the millionaires don't have the will or money they should sell to someone who has
2. Build privately owned stadia and not the traditional Italian socialist model of council owned grounds
3. Crush the Ultra movement in Italian football. This is a cancer on the Italian game. By following Britain's lead this will create a more welcoming environment thus attracting new revenue streams (families) into the clubs coffers.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 2:51pm
Leaving aside the Azzurri failure for a sec. I see 3 major problems in Calcio Italiano:
1. Serie A as a whole is broke. You have millionares running the clubs who neither have the inclination nor finances to compete with the Spanish, German and British leagues.
2. Excluding Juve' the Stadia in Italy are a joke. Where is the money from these owners to invest???
3. Women and children are excluded from Calcio because of a poor match day experience (poor stadia) and rampant racism
on the 26th June, 2014 at 2:43pm
@Sanrella that's a bit harsh, most societies have their brokenness and corruption if you look. As Capello said, we have problems but we deal with them - so maybe more comes out. No doubt we have many problems and many need addressing still (racism is just an embarrassment etc.) but let's hope we deal with them, on and off the pitch.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 8:35am
As an Azzuri faithful, I have continuously believed in their chances every time they took to the field. Yet before this World Cup, I didn't seem too sure about this Azzuri pulling it off.. In comparison to past World Cup selections, in my humble opinion, this is the poorest selection in terms of quality, talent and depth. Gone are the days when Azzuri coaches were spoiled with options for each position. I believe it's not just CP's fault, the problem runs much deeper in Italian football
on the 26th June, 2014 at 7:59am
To add on Prandelli, he disappointed me. He gave into the political forces in his press conference. His decision to resign at that very moment was poor, but what he said about Balotelli was wrong.

Something may have happened in the locker room, but that was not the way to do things. It's not befitting of a man I respect a great deal.

God help you all if Mancini is your next manager.

lol, Mancini, lol.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 2:23am
Btw, I forgot to write "moderately", as in "moderately well".

The only real standouts were Sirigu, Darmian in the first game, Verratti and, of course, Pirlo.

Barzagli probably.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 2:21am
Darmian, Barzagli, Pirlo (the best in show), Verratti, Marchisio (tho always misused), Sirigu (where's the love), Buffon (mostly) and Balotelli are the only players who played well. So how Balotelli is thrown under the bus...I can't understand.

The other 13 players (13!) did not. The only two players who didn't play were Aquilani and Perin (aka the 3rd GK). Funny that Aquilani could have brought some elements of an AM into a 5 man midfield that did not have ONE attacking midfielder.
on the 26th June, 2014 at 2:15am
When F.Cannavaro was asked on ITV about potential interest in becoming the next Azzurri manager I thought it was a joke..but it turned out he was serious!
Ftbl Italia even wrote about it..I mean how delusional one can be! This tells u all what u need to know about current state of affairs. Working ur way through coaching system is prhps one of last few things done properly in Italian calcio and it'd b a disaster to lose that too..Cannavaro u were a great player but plz go do ur homework first!
on the 26th June, 2014 at 1:07am
Rebuilding involves short + long term measures, starting from youth ftbl, technical work, FIGC, etc. Calcio people need to be put in the right places such as Sacchi, Baggio, Zola..Maldini and Vialli can tell the players what it's really like to have the honour to wear the Azzurri shirt.Rebuilding also starts from choosing right manager..Ancelotti has to be No1 but if not available Guidolin and Spaletti wud b much better choices than Mancini or Allegri..Conti wudnt work either..plz not Mancini!
on the 26th June, 2014 at 12:52am
@Maldini's Heir:

Sorry to disappoint you, but Balotelli is engaged. You missed your chance.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 11:37pm
With Balo you have to take one step back to take two step forward.Drop him for a couple of games to shake him up a little and make him realise when you play for Italy you have to do it with heart and effort.

He has alot of talent so we need to do something to get the best out of him.Having said that if he is dropped probably he will go into his shell and disappear.

Probably all the criticism he is getting is going to do that anyway.I see problems with his attitude the next few months.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 7:37pm
Too much blame on Balo.He got very little service and missed a few chances,it happens to every striker.Let's not forget he did score in a big game.He is not world class and didnt have a great world cup but who did in this Italy squad.For me,only Pirlo and Buffon can be satisfied with their performances.The rest,including Prandelli were not good.But it's mostly Prandelli's fault for failing build proper team in the 2 years he had.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 6:31pm
I agree wholly with Galliani and I will go one step further and say what he wanted to express. Italian calcio fans and players, who are now mercilessly scapegoating Mario Balotelli, are nothing short of cowards. Italy's overall attack was by far the most slow developing of all World Cup teams. Simply put, the whole country is to blame for some serious problems inside Italy's football culture. Let's not forget that a young fan of Napoli died today due to insane violence following a recent match.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 4:27pm
Wow Balotelli said it better than I could say it myself. And Galliani (I still think he should leave Milan). It is interesting that Italy's only goal scorers this world cup get criticised (obviously Marchisio less so). I thought Immobile and Insigne and Cassano and Cerci and all those other dream combinations were going to be the answer to all our problems? Well Cassano is back in the bad books apparently. Insigne? No one saying too much there. Immobile? Well we'll wish him well in the Bundeslig
on the 25th June, 2014 at 3:49pm
I agree with TonyITA. We still have a future. It is time for change but please not Mancini, Spalletti or Capello. We must go for the best and that is Ancelotti. Clubs must utilise our own grown players rather than purchasing foreign mediocre players. Clubs are to blame as well. Not only CP. We do have some very interesting youngsters. We are comfortable with the 3-5-2 formation and with this fast paced players are required. The sending off influenced the result.They didn't deserve to be out
on the 25th June, 2014 at 3:09pm
Anyone have any ideas why Thiago Motta, Gabriel Paletta, Ignazio Abate, Alberto Aquilani and Andrea Barzagli are now also going to be made outcasts after the World Cup? Do I really need to go through the 23 members of the squad (sorry Daniel-I-once-elbowed-McBride-in-the-face-De Rossi seems untouchable so just the 22 then) defending each of them. Its exhausting enough pointing out all the rubbish about Balotelli.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 3:08pm
Prandelli had to take responsibility but I thought timing of the resignation was wrong as he could've waited a few more days. Doing it so soon sends some -ve signals. It damages players morale and confidence and creates splits within the squad (we'r alrdy witnessing this). Remaining united in good and bad is the most important thing and Prandelli should b the first one to realise that. We need continuity with intelligent adjustments. Arrigo Sacchi and similar calcio people should lead new era.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 3:07pm
Miss (Mrs) Campanale you are right about criticising Prandelli's approach ( by this I mean playing panic football!) but you journalists are the ones who love to initiate and lead the blame game. You are wrong to single out players as the main reasons for Italy's failure, it was a failure of whole project and whole group, led by Prandelli, so it was only right that he stepped down.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 2:57pm
Negatives- Balottelli, if you can't be bothered to try at a World Cup then there is something seriously wrong upstairs!!!
Pirlo, Don't get me wrong he's a class act but it's got too predictable with him, only because the English lack footballing intelligence he was made to look untouchable (against organised and tactically clever opposition he struggles)
Prandelli, too much respect to Costa Rica, motta in place of verratti says it all!!
on the 25th June, 2014 at 2:56pm
Any performances under Lippi's first reign. We controlled games. We controlled games against top teams. All with fairly average players. Up until now his tenure has been a complete success. But as he recognised himself the end result was not good enough. For me the real tragedy is that in the end the pressure from the vultures forced him to go back to playing that old cynical defensive style of football. After years of re-building the Azzurri it's such a shame that he went out undoing all that
on the 25th June, 2014 at 9:21am
But spare a thought for Prandelli. For me he's been one of the most successful Italy manager's in living memory. The vultures will jump on this comment because its easy to criticise. Its easy to have the answers when typing on a computer. But Prandelli actually did it. He took the Italy side from 2010 and he got them playing football. We played some of the best football in the past 4 years. The performances against England x 2, Spain in the Group stage and Germany were arguably better than...
on the 25th June, 2014 at 9:09am
But the made up bad boy image is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So Balotelli gets a yellow card for jumping. Was it a risk to play Balotelli? Well it seems it was a risk to play Marchisio. And Chiellini with his elbow problem. And Bonucci with his shirt grabbing problem. And so on. The game was one of the most cynical matches I've ever witnessed. Every single player was trying something on.
on the 25th June, 2014 at 9:06am
Prandelli prandelli prandelli - the team that started and won against england v the team that finished last night were dramitcally different. This world cup is all about forward attacking play, with 4 fwds on v Costa Rica were didnt even hit the target... Totaly lack of offensive play, so poor - ive no idea how immobile has scored all those goals in serie A...

Im worried for the future, we will end up in a bad place if we get MAx Allegri or mancini,,,

RIP Italia
on the 25th June, 2014 at 8:50am

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