A glorious past, a gloomy present but a bright future. This sentence here sums up Italy’s national team perfectly. The Azzurri are a team that needs no introduction in the footballing world. From its distinguished players, to their famed ‘Catenaccio’ system and the four World Cups won. It is a team that was revered until the ill-fated spell of Gian Piero Ventura which saw the country reach a new nadir as they missed out on the 2018 World Cup.
Unlike Singapore this nation isn’t used to watching the tournament at home. If Singapore’s football fans are demanding, Italy’s are unrealistic as they believe success for their team is a given. Failure to deliver will result in calamitous consequences. And so after a typically protracted Italy manager saga filled with unabashed drama Roberto Mancini was finally given the job after Ventura’s deserved sacking.
Indeed the Roberto Mancini era has begun and it is safe to say it is filled with promise. The former Manchester City manager has shown he isn’t afraid to do what is right. Maligned in the past but matured now, Mario Balotelli has shown signs of maturity and his recall was long overdue, especially with Italy lacking a proven goalscorer upfront. In the World Cup qualifiers the team only had an average of an abysmal 1.8 goals ratio per game. Moreover Mancini’s reaction to calls to make Balotelli captain was positive and demonstrates astute management; after the striker was racially abused in their win over Saudi Arabia.
But the highlight of Mancini’s short tenure so far has been the inclusion of young blood into the squad. In their defeat against a world class French team, three debutants featured in the form of Rolando Mandragora, Mattia Caldara and Domenico Berardi. Such boldness is what is needed if Italy is to make strides forward. This is a long-term plan that Ventura could only dream of conjuring up. Mancini is definitely building for the future and another positive was notwithstanding the result, Italy more than held their own against Les Blues with the talents on hand hungry to prove their worth.
At the present moment, fans must exercise patience as the Azzurri and its players undergo a steep learning curve which is likely to continue for some time to come. Mancini does not have a magic wand and to expect miracles will be foolish. The present will definitely see more challenges for sure and there will be murmurs of a terminal decline surrounding the team. But if the match against France is anything to go by, it will be that the future burns bright for the men in blue.