Friday August 15 2014
Italy can count on Conte

Fresh from three consecutive Scudetti with Juventus, Antonio Conte is the right man for Italy, says Susy Campanale.

That was expected by absolutely everybody, regardless of all the stories about him turning down the job or Roberto Mancini being the favourite. The moment Antonio Conte terminated his contract with Juventus by mutual consent with the Azzurri bench vacant, it was obvious he would be the heir to Cesare Prandelli. This being Italy, the decision was met with controversy, complaints and the usual barrage of talking heads trying to stir up trouble.

Realistically, there are only two men capable of taking the Nazionale out of its post-World Cup doldrums and one of them is Conte. The other is Carlo Ancelotti, who quite rightly is in no rush to leave a star-studded Real Madrid side that could well retain the Champions League this season and dominate La Liga. Carletto would be the ideal candidate and one day he will wear that FIGC jacket, but for now we couldn’t really do any better than Conte.

Let’s not forget Italy are in much the same boat as Juventus when Conte took them over. He swept in to fire up a squad that finished seventh for two years running in Serie A and – horror of horrors – failed to qualify for Europe. He brought back confidence, determination and focus in every single game, even against the least enthralling opponents.

Ultimately it was that ability to grind out results each week that stood his Juve out from the rest of the pack. This is precisely what Italy need, as we are sick and tired of seeing our FIFA ranking collapse because the team can’t be bothered to get out of first gear in a friendly. Their attitude stinks against anyone other than the very top teams and it’s no wonder Azzurri matches barely have anyone in the stands. Who wants to pay good money to watch the Nazionale get bossed about by Azerbaijan?

You can say Conte never achieved much in the Champions League, reaching at most the quarter-finals and last year going out in the group phase to Galatasaray. Mind you, Fabio Capello’s Juve dominated Serie A without ever reaching the Champions League Final, while even Marcello Lippi and his all-conquering side won the trophy only once. In its entire history, the Old Lady has won the European Cup just twice. Failure on the continent is not unusual in Conte’s case, but rather perfectly normal for Juventus. We can’t really hold that against him.

Similarly, Conte may well need Italy. Juventus failed to provide him with the players to enact a 4-3-3 or even his original enthralling 4-2-4 approach, but the Azzurri can suit this system. His presence could also prompt Andrea Pirlo to postpone his international retirement for one last hurrah at Euro 2016. Having thrown Paul Pogba into the mix where Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t at Manchester United, this Coach can also give a chance to younger players like Marco Verratti, Alessandro Florenzi and Lorenzo Insigne.

It’s probably too much to hope for that the media and fans will support Conte. They love to pick apart any Italy side, so his will be no different, with the added bonus of those predisposed to blame Juventus for all calcio’s ills. No doubt they will moan that Conte picks lots of Bianconeri players – well they did just win three Serie A titles in a row, it’s not exactly rocket science to focus on them as a core.

The newspapers, TV stations and websites are already running pieces on Conte’s wages, even though they are paid for in part by sponsors in exchange for image rights. Some people seem to think the Nazionale is a charity and anyone taking charge ought to do it for free. A nice idea, but really not how the world works. I want these same critics to take a look at the wages paid in the Premier League to both players and managers, even the most mediocre ones, and realise just how insane football salaries have become.

Even Juventus fans have got in on the act, starting a petition to have his star removed from their Hall of Fame because of his ‘treachery’ at leaving the club for a new job. These people are typical of why the Azzurri bench is a no-win situation – in Italy the club comes first and the Nazionale is only cheered on once a major tournament arrives. In fact, only once they get into the knockouts. In their eyes taking over the national team is not an honour or a step up in Conte’s career path, but rather cashing in without doing much work. With fans like these, who needs enemies...

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Have your say...
I find the negativity from some just laughable. It's time to get behind the new manager, Italy under Conte are yet to even kick a ball and the negativity is awful. Yes Conte is on a two year contract but there is nothing to say that will not be extended providing on results. Conte taking the job at this time proves he is brave, Ancelotti said no thanks but if in the future the nazionale have a side with six or seven world class players I'm interested.
on the 2nd September, 2014 at 11:10am
Big fan of Conte, but his mandate should have been for 4 years, with the next World Cup as objective.

My squad for the EC in 2016: 4-1-4-1





(or Destro if Rossi should again fail on fitness tests)
on the 26th August, 2014 at 9:29am
It isn't Conte I worry about, its the pitiful number of Italian players playing for the top sides. You'd struggle to get a team of 11 out of the top six sides. Best players? Pirlo and Buffon - players reaching the end of their careers. The young players coming through are not of the calibre of players like Baggio, Maldini, Nesta, Cannavaro, Albertini, Vieri and the other top players we've seen in the last 20 years. Italy's best defender in 2014 wouldn't have got in the squad in 1994.
on the 19th August, 2014 at 10:33pm
This team needs motivation as seen by the abysmal attitude shown by some of our players in the last World Cup. Conte will inject some fight and pride in our players,as Prandelli was too soft. He will have his players breathing fire or VIA! Perfect choice!
on the 19th August, 2014 at 4:30pm
What Italy need is a long term plan. This summer as more and more second rate foreigners come into Serie A, stopping young Italians developing what we need is stability. Soon as Conte receives an offer abroad his head will be turned. A warrior doesn't run from a challenge like Conte did at Juventus! The only real world class player Italy have is 36 years old! We're entering a very dark period in Italian football and there's no real quality in the under 21 set-up. Where's the next Baggio,Baresi!
on the 19th August, 2014 at 1:17pm
I don't understand why only a 2 year deal.
on the 19th August, 2014 at 11:18am
I kept reading about Conte didn't change his tatics, but when you look at the Juve squad, he couldn't change the team due to injuries of Pepe and lack of tranfer of wingers. In the first season, where they went undefeated, he used multiple formations before settling on the 3-5-2. He had used a 4-4-2, and a 4-3-3.
on the 18th August, 2014 at 8:54pm
I don't understand Italy? why all this nonsense over puma and balotelli? first off am not Italian but watch serie A and the azzuri closely. I think Conte is the best choice for Italy because he will get the best work ethics out of his players. As for Balo I think Italy needs to shut up with all the hate towards this guy and start backing him 100 percent. Who is a better option right now? Ciro? Rossi? Don't think so? Mario has changed alot since coming back to Italy so why not encourage him.
on the 18th August, 2014 at 4:04pm
Hope Conte is watching Napoli tomorrow as Insigne and Jorginho are important players for Italy. A lot of players under performed in the summer, but also weren't given the playing time they deserved. Conte is a million times better than Prandelli. I cant wait to see who he picks in first squad. We should easily qualify for Euro 2016, should be lots of opportunity for conte to try different players, perhaps systems before 2016.
on the 18th August, 2014 at 3:07pm
Can we stop these ridiculous stories about Conte and Puma. I can see the critics already have their excuses lined up for if and when Conte inexplicably picks Italy's leading goal scorer and one of two Italy players to score at the World Cup. I'm not saying Conte will pick "you know who" but if he does the footballing reasons are obvious. These made up media stories really are endless.
on the 18th August, 2014 at 1:44pm
Conte was the obvious choice especially once he left Juve.

You can't ignore his failure in Europe nor the fact that its not so hard to win Serie A which is suffering badly from having decent teams.

From Conte's point of view I think it's the wrong move.He's new in club management and should have waited for a top club job to further prove himself and learn his trade.

Now he's in demand but will be less so when he finishes with italy unless he does really well.
on the 18th August, 2014 at 8:26am
I would have preferred Robert Mancini. I think his coaching outside of Italy is always important. He also could handle Balotelli. As for Conte he is ok and I respect he did not play Giovinco because he was second best. He may need to do this to the likes of Balotelli and Insigne. He would have probably chosen Destro over Insigne last World Cup. The main problem with Italy is no mega superstar anytime soon. No Baggio , no Totti, no ADP, not even a young Pirlo.
on the 17th August, 2014 at 3:59pm
The appointment is premature. Seems like an odd career decision from conte. I don't want to see one of Italy's finest managers waste four years with a national team that just doesn't boast enough talent to win a tournament. Conte can't win a tournament with this squad. The other European teams are far ahead. He could have spent the next four years building at juve and waited for a better time for Italy to produce some decent players in a decade or so.
on the 17th August, 2014 at 1:27pm
Gotta say I'm totally delighted with Conte being Italy coach. But then i would be seeing as Conte was born in Lecce like my father. love Contes passion and desire to win.
on the 17th August, 2014 at 1:04pm
Who wants to pay good money to watch the Nazionale get bossed about by Azerbaijan? )))))) being from Azerbaijan and as a fan of italian football from WC'90
it's really cool))))))
on the 17th August, 2014 at 5:23am
I like Conte, but Mancini has a way better record.
on the 17th August, 2014 at 1:58am
no hope at all in revitalizing...the azzurri heart beat is all but flatlined!!!!!
on the 17th August, 2014 at 12:27am
Conte would be the best coach at this time. He got juve from 7th position to first and italy is also in a bad situation right now. Ancelotti can still be coach in the future. He doesn't want to leave Real now, and I don't think there's anyone else as good now. Hope italy does well at next euros and World Cup in 2018
on the 16th August, 2014 at 11:57pm
Oh god a blog about Italy and people are talking about you know who again including coming up with ridiculous conspiracy theories about puma. Conte I'm sure will pick the strongest team and some of you are going to get over your obsessions since there's many more problems with Italian football and life.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 9:46pm
Now, I get the fact that Conte was pretty much the only decent choice, considering his opposition Mancini, Spalletti, some even mentioned Mihajlovic and Allegri. But i wouldn't expect much of an improvement in Italy's performances during the Euro's and next WC. So i can't treat the guy as a savior of Italy.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 8:52pm
Mark my words... Conte is not the man to lead Italy! The guy is a great motivator, but a tactician he is not. Not flexible with formations, lacks experience in my view he took over the Italy job at least 10 years too early. Lacks a genuine plan B and he doesn't trust the youth as some would have you believe. He may be forced to introduce some youth as Italy will lose some older players to retirement, but if he survives the Euro's we will be looking at a very similar Brazil squad come next WC.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 8:46pm
I hope there are lots of protests at training. I cant believe Benatia is going. My god. Garcia knows how important he is, he was our best player last season. Whoever comes in for him wont be half as good. Trust me we are in trouble. He is our best defender by a mile as a goal threat and leader. Get rid of Destro but not Benatia, for god sake. Serie A is a joke, as soon as premier league or la liga come sniffing we have to sell. 2nd rate league, so depressing. Thank god for ANTONIO CONTE.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 7:14pm
It looks like we are going to lose Benatia, if this is the case I am disgusted. He is a crucial part of our team. If he goes it just goes to show how weak our league is, no team can hang on to their top players. If we lose him we are screwed defensively. He could quite easily be the difference between winning scudetto and a decent champ league run. Depressing.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 6:40pm
For those saying Conte will leave Balotelli out of the squad -- Puma sponsors the National Team, Balotelli has a Puma contract, Conte can't leave Balotelli out of the squad given that Puma contract, Balo must be seen as Puma dictates, but, Conte can leave Balo on the bench during actual game. Puma can't dictate game tactics. Or so I've read. Say otherwise if I've read wrong information.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 3:57pm
@ anonymous I agree but I'm not sure it was a choice. Conte was unexpectedly available but Ancelotti gas a job. A very good job. Why would he give up Ronaldo, Bale, James Rodriguez and Kross for a load of abuse as Italy manager. I hope the public and the media sort out the negativity surrounding the national team.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 1:23pm
I was slightly worried by the appointment of conte, but having read on countless interviews that he will not revolve his team around balotelli and that he will not hesitate to leave him at home he won me over 10 fold!
Conte will not be able to hide the obvious lack of quality we have- thanks to the foreign invasion, i have been left gob smacked at the transfers this year. Italian football is dying fast. I hope tavecchio puts restrictions in place because Serie A has become a joke!
on the 16th August, 2014 at 1:12pm
I'm happy with the choice of Conte, but what I don't understand is why everyone is saying that it's "not Ancelotti's time" and "Conte's time is now and Ancelotti's is later". Who is the more experienced coach? Who has won more in Italy and abroad? Who performs much, much better in Europe? Who is more adapt at handling the media, fans and various stakeholders in the football world? After 2 successive World Cup embarrassments and tumbling FIFA rankings, what is a better time for Carlo to be CT?
on the 16th August, 2014 at 11:46am
I don't anyone can argue with the choice. The issue is now what excuses do we have? Also conte is a great motivator but it'll be harder at international level when he won't see the players as often and ultimately and unfortunately the players seem to care more for the clubs that pay them. Conte's biggest weakness is his tactics and at international level these are key. Still very happy with the choice. It'll be interesting to see if he inject passion into the azzurri
on the 16th August, 2014 at 11:07am
Suzy....... SPOT ON !!
Nothing more to be said.
on the 16th August, 2014 at 10:05am
"Failure on the continent is not unusual in Conte’s case, but rather perfectly normal for Juventus." I'm sorry Suzi, but winning 2 Champions League trophies and having played in 6 finals is not 'failure' when you look at a team like Arsenal who have never won one and only made one final - now that's FAILURE!Also, Juve is the only club to have won every European trophy on offer - again, hardly a FAILURE!!!!
on the 16th August, 2014 at 9:29am

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