Manager and head of federation both resign
27 June ~ If Cesare Prandelli's resignation as Italy coach in the immediate aftermath of the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay was met with a sad sense of inevitability by the national media, reports that Giancarlo Abete, head of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), was also handing in his notice caused more consternation. The men in grey suits never resign in Italy, so Abete's decision to let go of the reigns is big news. The press have been quick to debate his possible successor, with Demetrio Albertini, the current FIGC vice president, looking the most likely to make the step up.
Plenty of commentators have complained that there's a problem with the system, beyond a simple reboot, with an unequal share of money, too many foreign imports and lack of decent infrastructure. We've been here before of course. When Abete announced that Prandelli was taking charge of the national team after Italy's poor showing in South Africa, the former Fiorentina coach became the public face of a restructuring job which saw a shake-up of the federation's technical centre at Coverciano. People liked Prandelli, and the national team, became a rallying point for supporters disaffected by the scandals blighting Serie A.
The coach was let down in Brazil by underperforming younger players and a mediocre attack, albeit one depleted by the absence of the injured Giuseppe Rossi and Stephan El Shaarawy. Against Costa Rica and Uruguay, Italy were subdued, reluctant to take any sort of initiative. Added to that, there have been grumbles in recent days that Prandelli played a style of football that “wasn't ours”, that instead was a pale imitation of Barcelona's possession game, keeping the ball for the sake of it, with little focus or direction.
At the time of writing, Roberto Mancini, Massimiliano Allegri and Luciano Spalletti, all free agents after parting company with their clubs last season (Galatasaray, Milan and Zenit St Petersburg respectively), are the main contenders to replace Prandelli.
All, however, have been used to earning big money, something the FIGC would be reluctant, not to say unable, to offer. According to a report in La Repubblica, Prandelli was paid €1.6 million (£1.3m) a year; Mancini earned €7m a season in Turkey. The Italian authorities are going to have to appeal to prospective coaches' sense of pride. It wouldn't necessarily need to be that hard a sell. Italy were runners up in the European Championships and looked a useful side during last summer's Confederations Cup. They're clearly still a few players short of the Azzurri of old, but there's something to work with.
Albertini will have a big say in whoever the new coach is, regardless of whether he takes over from Abete. An FIGC meeting has been called for Monday morning. We should know a little more then, but even if replacements are quickly found for both Prandelli and Abete, the Italian game looks set for another long summer of soul searching. Matthew Barker