Roberto Mancini reaches agreement to manage Italy - But is he the right choice?

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 01 May 2018, 14:19

After the disastrous tenure of Giampiero Ventura with the Italian national team saw the Azzurri fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, it was vitally important that the FIGC got the next appointment right.

It’s no secret that the most-wanted man was Carlo Ancelotti, however last week the former Bayern Munich boss spoke to Italian FA Vice Commissioner Alessandro Costacurta over the phone from his holiday in Canada to confirm that he would not be taking the job.

Italian sports newspaper Corriere dello Sport reported that his reasons for declining the offer were related to salary, the potential of another offer from a big European domestic side and uncertainty over the future of the Italian FA. The federation have still have not appointed a replacement for president Carlo Tavecchio after he stood down following the aforementioned failure to reach this summer’s tournament in Russia.

With Ancelotti clearly a no-go, Italy have been forced to turn to their second choice in Zenit St. Petersburg boss Roberto Mancini, who has reportedly reached an agreement to take over the position and is likely to be unveiled before a friendly with Saudi Arabia on May 28. It is also understood that the former Manchester City man will be taking a pay-cut from his current position in the Russian Premier League.

But is Mancini really the right man for the job?

The task at hand cannot be underestimated as there is no doubt the Azzurri need a complete rebuild after such a disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign. Mancini will have to contend with the international retirement of what was the backbone of this group, Captain Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi all having voiced their intentions to step away from the national side.

Qualification to Euro 2020 and a good showing in that tournament is clearly the brief here, and Mancini at least has a blank canvas in which to work with and a plethora of keen young talent to select. The boss has shown during his time with Inter and Manchester City that he is willing to field young players.

“It is a great boost to everyone at the Academy to see the door to the first team opening again,” said former Manchester City youth team academy director Jim Cassell to the MEN when Mancini gave a number of their products a chance in the senior side back in 2010. “You need that feeling that if you are good enough, work hard enough and listen well enough, you have a chance.”

Such a testimony should be music to the ears of those who follow Italy, after years of frustration due to the selection choices of both Ventura and Antonio Conte. Mancini has also earned a reputation as a good cup manager, first taking Fiorentina to a Coppa Italia triumph in 2002 at the age of just 38. That was followed up with a win in the same competition in three consecutive seasons starting in 2004 with Lazio, followed by two with Inter in 2005 and 2006.

He would also lift the FA Cup with Manchester City in 2010/11 and the Turkish Super Cup with Galatasaray in 2014, and such experience in knockout football could well stand him in good stead for his new undertaking with Italy.

There are clearly lots of positives to be drawn here, but it remains to be seen how well the 53-year-old will get on with the public relations sie of the job, the role often high-pressure and difficult to manage in terms of a football-obsessed public. Mancini has not shied away from voicing his opinion in the past, even if that stubborn approach has drawn controversy.

As new Italy boss, he would have to learn to take a more diplomatic stance, but the fundamentals are there for him to have a successful tenure with the Azzurri. Roberto Mancini may not be anyone’s first choice here, but he may just turn out to be what Italy needs as they begin to rebuild for the future.

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Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis
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17th May
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