What next for Italy and the doomed Gian Piero Ventura?

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 14 November 2017, 11:12

After having taken Torino from Serie B to the Europa League, utilising the crop of good young players at his disposal, it seemed like Gian Piero Ventura was the ideal candidate to build on the foundation that previous Italy boss Antonio Conte had built.

He may not have been the big name that many people craved, but he seemed to have the right philosophy for what was so clearly needed at the time.

Skipping through the next almost 18 months, Italy had failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years amidst a wave of failures, excuses and failed promises of introducing youth from the veteran boss. The utterly abject display in a two-legged defeat to Sweden was merely the tip of the iceberg after an abysmal qualifying campaign, and the Coach did not even have the dignity to quit after his side’s exit.

“Resignation? I have to evaluate an infinity of issues,” said Ventura after the match. “We will meet with the Federation and discuss it. We will speak the way we always have done. There is a rapport with (FIGC President Carlo) Tavecchio and the entire Federation.” He continued to bemoan the fact the only goal scored over the two legs was a deflected Sweden goal, his attempts to shift attention away from his own failures bordering on comical.

Although not yet official, his exit will undoubtedly soon arrive. With a huge rebuilding task at hand, it is now vital that the Italian football federation get the next appointment right, but who is in the frame to succeed Ventura?

According to Italian sports newspapers Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport, the three main candidates are former Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti, ex-Manchester City Coach Roberto Mancini and current Juventus tactician Massimiliano Allegri. Antonio Conte of Chelsea also joins the running amidst rumours there are problems with the latter at Stamford Bridge.

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The problem with bringing in a Coach currently under contract such as Allegri, Conte or Mancini - who is currently working in Russia as boss of Zenit Saint Petersburg - is that the FIGC already have a ¤1.5m payout to Ventura to consider. Appointing any of these three men will prove to be a difficult operation, and it is only Allegri from this trio that could conceivably take the team forward.

Mancini has an inconsistent record at best, whilst Conte has already proven that he is not the right man to bring through the wealth of young talent at Italy’s disposal. Ancelotti, however, is a different story, having won league titles in all of Europe’s top five leagues alongside two Champions League trophies with Milan and one with Real Madrid.

If ever his winning mentality was needed for a nation that had hit rock bottom, that time is certainly now. Fabio Capello backed his counterpart to take over the Azzurri this week, believing that his appointment is best for both parties. "Ancelotti is the right age, has great experience and is only missing a job like this to be complete," he told Quotidiano Sportivo.

Currently without a job after being sacked by Bayern Munich in September, Ancelotti seems to be the easiest to appoint. However, he is also said to be considering a job offer from Croatia, who have qualified for World Cup 2018.

Italy U21 boss Luigi Di Biagio has also been tentatively linked with the upcoming vacancy, and he does have the necessary experience in working with the nation’s youngsters, but received heavy criticism for his failure to progress in both the 2015 and 2017 European U21 Championships.

“Me replacing Ventura? They don’t have to contact me, I’m already part of the Federation,” he said earlier this week. “But it’s not something to talk about right now.”

Gianluca Vialli and former Italy World Cup winners Gennaro Gattuso and Fabio Cannavaro are those quoted by the Italian press as having an outside chance of taking on the role, but whoever they choose, it is very clear that this time they need to get it quickly get it right. Italy has fallen into a deep black hole, and they need a man who - along with a new generation of youngsters - can pull them out of it.

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