Roberto Mancini looking to make statement of intent as Italy face Poland in UEFA Nations Leagueby Chloe Beresford / 07 September 2018, 11:30Tweet
Since former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini took the vacant Italy post last May, it has been clear that he is ready to break the mould.
This is a side that were glaringly absent in Russia during this summer’s World Cup, former Coach Giampiero Ventura responsible for their failure to qualify for the first time in 60 years.
For too long, the Azzurri’s most talented players were overlooked by Ventura and indeed Antonio Conte before him, in favour of selecting the “old favourites” that were never going to be capable of taking the nation forward. In contrast, Mancini has named a squad full of talented youngsters and unfamiliar names that have not exclusively come from the traditional Italian powerhouses of Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, the stage is now set for this rebuild to bear fruit.
It will not be an easy process as many elements within the Italian Football Federation need to be revolutionised, however this week has once again proven that “Mancio” is unafraid to speak his mind.
The new Commissario tecnico has waged war on the clubs from which his players originate, blasting them for failing to give these deserving candidates enough playing time at a domestic level.
“Our use of Italians has never been so low, so we have to try something different. That’s why I’ve called up certain players,“ Mancini declared at an Azzurri press conference.
“Having said that, I believe there are some very good Italians around, certainly better than many of the foreigners who play in their place.”
Indeed, AS Roma’s 19-year-old midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo has received the call to the full international squad before he has even made his Serie A debut. I’m surprised to have been called up but enthusiastic about it,” he admitted during Thursday’s press conference. My journey at the European Championship with the Under-19 National Team helped me a lot, I’ve always believed in my dreams and they have come true.”
The Ct has also been present at many more Serie A matches than other bosses from the recent past, his appearance in the stands at Fiorentina-Udinese last Sunday consistent with surprise maiden call-ups for Cristiano Biraghi and Marco Benassi.
In a clear attempt to lighten the atmosphere during training at the team’s Coverciano base, Mancini has also introduced a playlist full of upbeat and inspiring songs, leading many to believe that a super-strict atmosphere is very much a thing of the past.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini plays music during Italy training sessions to relax the players. The playlist includes:— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) September 5, 2018
Robbie Williams, Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Calvin Harris, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas and Queen.
Watch Italy v Poland Saturday morning on Optus Sport. pic.twitter.com/UKg0W9yKbr
Perhaps Roberto Mancini wasn’t many people’s first choice for the Italy job, but the fact that he is willing to stick his head above the parapet makes him stand out above the rest.
UEFA Nations League - Italy vs. Poland.
Kick-off time: 19:45
Where to watch: Sky Sports Mix/Sky Sports Football
Predicted Lineup: Donnarumma; Zappacosta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito; Benassi, Jorginho, Pellegrini; Bernardeschi, Balotelli, Insigne
Prediction: This is still a developing Italy side, but based on Poland’s poor showing in the World Cup, a win for the Azzurri is on the cards here. A 2-1 victory seems likely.