Even months before Italy’s European Championship triumph, their elegant manager Roberto Mancini knew his team would conquer the continent. In an interview with the fashion magazine GQ, he detailed his summer plans: “The goal is to spend the summer in Portonovo to sign autographs as a champion manager. It’s a beach in the Italian province of Ancona near Jesi, the town where Mancini grew up and where he spends time, swapping the Armani for a beach t-shirt and shorts, or often going topless, displaying his still chiseled physique.
He said this partly as a joke, but Mancini has always been firm in his claims and opinions.
But after his idyllic vacation, once Calcio’s new season strikes next month, Mancini will return to Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano, the technical headquarters of Italian football in the bustling city of Rome, known simply as Coverciano, for prepare and plan the next project. for the European champions with his loyal collaborator Gianluca Vialli, the technical coordinator of the football association Maurizio Viscidi and other members of the technical staff.
Mancini is a practical man, he hated long hours spent in the boardroom watching presentations, but resigned himself to the inevitable realities of managerial existence. “I like spending time watching the players rather than getting stuck in meeting rooms,” he once told Canal Plus. He devours as many games as possible, Serie A, Serie B, Champions League, Europa League, whatever he can lay eyes on to be able to solve his team’s next puzzle.
To the Middle East
Much of the talk about the future could revolve around the World Cup in Qatar at the end of next year. Towards the final stages of his post-final press conference, Mancini hinted at it. “There is more to do for this group in the years to come. He didn’t say so many words, but what he implied was a dynasty of footballers, that despite all their quality and ability to win the World Cup, Italy never succeeded. . Like the French or the Spaniards at different times in football history. Only two nations have already achieved the World Cup / European Championship double: France in 1998 and 2000, and Spain in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
This intrigued Mancini. “When we entered the Italian squad (as players) we found (Giuseppe) Bergomi and (Franco) Baresi from the previous generation, both world champions. Shortly after, (Paolo) Maldini and (Roberto) Baggio joined. You tell me how we have always finished second or third without ever getting on the top step of the podium like the 1982 and 2006 generations.
Despite quality managers, generational talents and a strong system, Italy has never been able to achieve what Spain or France have done. A hot streak later they would turn off. The 2006 World Cup winners didn’t reach anywhere near another trophy; Cesare Prandelli’s Tiki-Italians either in 2012. Mancini wants to change history.
Mancini’s lot could dream. The core of the group is young and strong, although they remain a work in progress. There are aging veterans in the backline – Giorgio Chiellini is 36, Leonardo Bonucci 34 and Francesco Acerbi 33. Mancini, on his scout tour across the country, is reportedly keeping an eye out for young defenders; he already has a young Milanese, Alessandro Bastoni, widely presented as the potential successor of Paolo Maldini. Perhaps more worrying is the shortage of the old-fashioned No.9 in the Christian Vieri-Pippo Inzaghi mold. Lorenzo Insigne is more of a winger, Ciro Immobile more of a center forward than a striker; Andrea Belotti lacks finesse and is motionless.
A classic striker would give Mancini more room for tactical maneuvers. At the Euro, he mainly stuck to a 4-3-3 hybrid, which allowed his opponents to project themselves against Italy according to their strengths. Spain chose a false nine with clever moves to deceive and test the old guard of Chiellini and Bonucci; England chose an additional defender to neutralize Italy’s wing play. Both shots disrupted the flow of Italy and exposed their vulnerability on the left flank in the absence of dynamic full-back Leonardo Spinazzola. There were times when Italy seemed reactive and confused. These failings would not have escaped Mancini.
– UEFA EURO 2020 (@ EURO2020) July 11, 2021
One for all! All for one
In either case, he lacked the tactical flexibility to upset the structure or formulate a counter-plan. It relied on an emotion even harder to achieve than structural organization and discipline – a sense of unity, which is the hallmark of all great teams (and emerging ones like Italy). They are a bunch of brothers.
There was no show that expressed it better than Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile waving Spinazzola’s jersey after the shootout victory over Spain. They missed it and made it obvious. On Sunday evening, Spinazzola on crutches was sent to receive the first medal. The way they celebrated their highs and hung onto the lows exemplified the cohesion of the team. There is real joy in everyone’s accomplishments, and they express it explicitly as the blame is shared collectively. Even Mancini no longer condemns his players in public, as he did in the Manchester City days.
He encouraged them to actively interact with fans and supporters, had them patiently sign autographs and joined them in the crowd for the celebrations, as did Bonucci after the win over Spain and one of the staff. on the ground took him for a party animal.
– UEFA EURO 2020 (@ EURO2020) July 12, 2021
Inspiration and pleasure
The presence of the winners of the Sampdoria fairy tale scudetto on the support staff – with the exception of Vialli, Alberigo Evani, Attilio Lombardo and Fausto Salsano – helped foster a sense of brotherhood. Vialli’s life, his fight against cancer and his speeches had a profound influence. One of them said: “Winning is not important. Thinking like a winner is. Ten percent of life is what happens to you. The remaining 90 percent is your approach. I hope my story can help others face what life has in store for them in the right way. “
From him, they got into the habit of kissing the ball every time they touched it. Football, like a “kiss of life” he would say. They also picked up a few weird superstitions along the way, like spilling wine before dinner every day because it accidentally happened the day before their Euro training camp started. Mancini would be more eager to keep another habit – the habit of winning. They are undefeated in 34 games, one more and they would equal Romario’s Brazil and Xavi’s Spain, two teams that created a dynasty.
Mancini thinks his men can do it. Not to set records, but because he hates losing. When he was only nine years old, he hit a friend’s head with a table tennis racket after losing a match. “I have always been the same. I have the same mentality since playing with my friends at school. I want to win. I just want to win. I don’t like participating in anything and not finishing first, ”he once told the Guardian in an interview.
It is therefore unlikely that Mancini or his men will be satisfied with what they achieved at the Euro. The atonement for the World Cup awaits them. And there is a dynasty to be built.