Roberto Mancini will stay on as Italy coach despite the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup again.
Italy, who won the European Championship only eight months ago, lost 1-0 to North Macedonia in the play-offs on Thursday and will now miss a second straight World Cup.
The previous failure led to the dismissal of coach Gian Piero Ventura and the appointment of Mancini.
However, the Italian soccer federation this time has decided to stick with the coach who revitalised the national team and led it to the Euro 2020 title. The 57-year-old Mancini was given a contract extension through 2026 in May.
“We need to start again,” Mancini said on Monday. “I talked to the president, we’re in agreement on everything, we’ll have time to discuss what we need to improve.
“I’m still young and I wanted to win a European Championship and a World Cup, we’ll have to wait for the second a little bit. I like this work and I know that with the players we can organise again something important. Apart from the disappointment, everything else is moving forward.
“We need to start again with a new cycle. We have important matches coming up. “We will certainly introduce younger players already in June for the Nations League. I hope they will get experience in their club. That’s fundamental.”
Mancini introduced an exciting brand of football after taking over from Ventura. His team also broke several records, including setting a run of 37 unbeaten matches, before losing to Spain in the Nations League finals.
And, as Italy prepare to start from scratch again, veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci believes Mancini is once again the right man for the job.
“What the coach has given us in these three years is something unique,” Bonucci said. “He has created an empathy that is rare to see at Coverciano (the Italy team’s headquarters).
“For us continuing with the coach is just the logical thing to do: his ideas, his human value are unquestionable. The result of a one-off match can change opinions, but those who live this every day only want to continue this path.”
Instead of preparing for a playoff final against Portugal on Tuesday, Italy will play Turkey in a friendly after they lost to the Portuguese on Thursday.
Nine of the Italy players called up for the World Cup play-offs returned to their clubs over the past three days after struggling with physical issues: Marco Verratti, Jorginho, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi, Gianluca Mancini, Luiz Felipe, Alessandro Florenzi and Matteo Politano.
That should give some of the less experienced a chance to play.
‘Mancini should keep Italy job’
European football expert Andy Brassell:
“There has been so much speculation in Italy that Mancini will fall on his sword. Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina threw his support behind him to continue as manager despite missing out on the World Cup.
“It’s the right thing because he inherited Italy in a mess and he’s not just filling time in between jobs. He’s fully committed and has put his heart and soul into improving the team over the past couple of years.
“Italy not qualifying for two successive World Cups is a bad thing but he can’t be blamed for the first one and be’s still done some many positive things while in charge of Italy.”
Chiellini set to retire from Italy duty
Giorgio Chiellini is expected to retire from international football following Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
His last match is likely to be against Argentina in the Finalissima – the winners of the Euros and Copa America – at Wembley on June 1.
It will take place in the stadium in which the 37-year-old captained his country to the 2020 European Championship title over England last summer.
The Juventus skipper and centre-back has 115 caps and eight goals for his country, and was a runner-up with them at the 2012 Euros.
He was not part of the Italy squad that won the World Cup in 2006.
Chiellini’s contract with Juventus is until 2023. However, following Italy’s exit, an earlier move to Major League Soccer in the US could be considered.