The Italian National Team is starting again with Roberto Mancini. The 52nd Coach in a 108-year old history, he will make his debut on the Italy bench on 28th May in St Gallen for the friendly against Saudi Arabia before the matches against France (1st June in Nice) and the Netherlands (4th June in Turin). These are the first fixtures before the start of the Nations League in September while qualifying for the 2020 European Championship begins in March in Rome.
After signing a contract last night, the Head Coach was presented to the press today at Coverciano with FIGC Extraordinary Commissioner Roberto Fabbricini and Sub-Commissioners Alessandro Costacurta and Angelo Clarizia also present along with CEO Michele Uva and Team Manager Gabriele Oriali.
"We had an important task in looking to find guidance for the National Team," said Fabbricini at the press conference. "First of all, we were asking for someone with a great desire to take on this historic role, someone with great technical competence and this is the best solution. It’s a task that Mancini will take on well. In addition to being a great player, he has been in the dugout at some important clubs and he’s won trophies wherever he’s been."
The Extraordinary Commissioner thanked Luigi Di Biagio for leading the team for the friendlies against Argentina and England. He will return to the Under-21 job ahead of the Under-21 European Championship that Italy is hosting in 2019. "He was very proper in his behaviour and competent in the role, he created a wonderful atmosphere. Now, he’ll return to the Under-21 side for a European Championship that we hope will reopen doors to the Olympic Games." After a message of thanks for Costacurta and Clarizia, CEO Uva, special technical commissioners De Nigro and Proto, the lawyer Ghisi and Team Manager Gabriele Oriali who will continue to be an important member of staff, Fabbricini launched an appeal for support at the Women’s National Team’s qualifier in Florence against Portugal in Florence on 8th June. The aim is to seal qualification to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. "This is a call to arms. I would be happy if on 8th June, the fans and press come out in numbers to support the Women’s National Team where I believe it’s indisputable that we’ve done some excellent work."
"To become the Italy Coach is a source of pride," said Mancini in his first press conference. "I think that this is the greatest aspiration for any coach. I’ve been coaching for many years, this was the right moment after the failure to qualify for the World Cup to do something for the National Team. My relationship with the National Team lasted for a really long time. I had three different Coaches in Bearzot, Vicini and Sacchi. I want to bring Italy back to where we belong, to the top of Europe and the world. It won’t be simple, there’s a lot to work on but I think we can do it. We need to bring the team back closer to the fans. It’s difficult for a National Team Coach to make everybody agree, every fan sees football in their own way, you need to win an important trophy to create unity."
With it being said that he’d speak with Buffon and De Rossi to understand what their intentions are and that the doors are open to all, the new Head Coach responded to questions about a possible call-up for Mario Balotelli. "There are lots of players in Italy even if we think it’s hard to find quality players at times. With Balotelli, we’ll speak and I’ll probably call him. We would all like to see him back like he was at the European Championships with Prandelli."
The first training camp of the Mancini era will begin at the start of next week. "It’s hard to say how we’ll play, I want to see some players that I don’t know well but I’ll adapt to their needs and qualities to decide what is best for the team. It’s important that the players in the National Team show what their dreams are." There was also talk about the average age of the team and preparing for the future: "We need to think about building a team for the coming years, so age will matter. The Head Coach has to be close to the youth teams but every team has its own coach and I don’t want to interfere with the work of my colleagues who doing a great job."
For the press pack (in Italian) click here