News : Football EM: Italy hopes for impulses from coach Mancini – Sport
Roberto Mancini looks almost exactly the same as he did when he was an active footballer, and he would probably love to hear that compliment in particular. He’s 56 now, his complexion always has that casually tanned note – will he get that on his yacht? It is called “Firefly”, it is 30 meters long, every summer there are pictures of it in the gossip book. And then the hair: Mancini still wears it as long as he used to, he constantly and theatrically strokes the strand from his face in front of the television cameras, this fan gesture has become a brand.
The coach of the Italian national team, who opened the European Championship tournament in Rome this Friday in front of 16,000 spectators with the group game against Turkey (9 p.m., Rome), is in good shape, fit with all the youngsters. He likes the job. Mancini apparently does not lack the daily coaching business that a club coach carries around with him, he wants to stay for a long time: He has just extended his contract with the Italian football association – until 2026, apparently for four million euros a year, plus bonus, this is a stately arrangement. Roberto Mancini wants to shape a cycle, an era, half an eternity.
The prelude to this has already been successful, although it must be said that it may never have been easier to bring about an improvement than when he took office three years ago. Mancini took over the Azzurri at a time when many Italian football fans were wondering whether they shouldn’t turn to another sport for tricolor well-being.
What had happened was what had always been thought impossible: a World Cup without Italy, the very first in history. The Italians missed the 2018 tournament in Russia, tired and without ideas – under the direction of coach Gian Piero Ventura, one of them Commissario Tecnico without prior international experience. They failed in the playoff barrage against Sweden – against Sweden!
Carlo Tavecchio, Italy’s funny association president at the time, called it an “apocalypse”. One should definitely be wary of biblical borrowings, but the end of the world hit it very well. The coach Ventura was gone quickly, as was Tavecchio. After a short transition period to rearrange themselves, in the summer of 2018 the Italians brought Roberto Mancini, one of their best coaches, one with a lot of experience, at home and abroad: Lazio Rome, Fiorentina, Zenit St. Petersburg, Galatasaray Istanbul.
He won the Scudetto, the Italian championship badge, three times with Inter Milan and the Premier League once with Manchester City. Back then, in his years in England, the fashion magazines were almost as enthusiastic about him as the sports papers.
In his first three years Mancini has appointed more players than any coach before him
The big world probably didn’t notice Mancini’s post-apocalyptic appointment as national coach, because it was looking to Russia. In Italy, however, the state broadcaster Rai immediately put a film team on the bearer of hope. To the Savior, to stay with the biblical.
The Rai documentary filmmakers have been shooting for almost three years, and they were even allowed to go into the dressing rooms of the national team training camp in Coverciano, for the first time ever. They traveled everywhere, to every game under Mancini. The material would have been enough for a full-fledged series, but they contented themselves with four episodes, a so-called mini-series: “Un sogno azzurro”, an azure dream, was scheduled for the last days before the start of this European Championship – in each case after the evening news on Rai Uno, the TG1. The first episode was about how Roberto Mancini rebuilt the team. And that’s half the story.
In his first three years Mancini has appointed more players than any coach before him in such a short time, including a host of debutants. Sometimes it was enough that someone had played two or three appealing games in the Italian championship, and he was already on the squad. Above all, Mancini managed to breathe new spirit into the team, a new self-confidence, with each record it got a little more. No Azzurri coach before him has remained undefeated for more games in a row. Sometimes Italy played really well: fast and easy to combine. However, there weren’t a lot of big opponents. In the Fifa ranking, Italy is again number seven after having crashed to 21st place in the meantime.
Mancini is known to especially like those players who remind him of himself, in terms of technique and class. For 15 years he had played for Sampdoria Genoa, his body club, before he had a few more successful years at Lazio and a few games to forget at Leicester City. It was a total of 566 missions, he has become a Sampdoria club icon. Mancini was a fine attacking midfielder with a slouching tip, a velvet foot, and trick player.
With goal scorer Gianluca Vialli he formed the dream duo of Sampdoria, probably one of the most symbiotic in the history of Calcio, they even became champions at the time, and Genoa also won the European Cup winners. Mancini’s “twin brother” like that Gazzetta dello Sport Vialli is now “Capo Delegazione”, the head of the Nazionale delegation.
Mancini used to belong to that category of prominent footballers who cannot quite replicate their terrific club performance in the national team: only 34 international matches, four goals – for someone like him that was a rather poor result. At that time, the competition was also greater than it is today, with greats like Roberto Baggio and Gianfranco Zola also playing in Mancini’s position.
In Mancini’s national team, the midfield is the most reliable department
In the present day Italy has a nice number of talented young players. But what is missing is an over-radiator, one that draws all attention with power. In Mancini’s 2021 national team, midfield is perhaps the most reliable department at the moment. Ideally, Marco Verratti from Paris Saint-Germain will play as the attacking director, who will probably only be fit in the second group game – and Jorginho from the newly crowned Champions League Chelsea FC as “Pivot”, sixth in the backcourt.