by Paolo Franci
Turkey-Italy is, from a certain point of view, the most important pointless match in Italian history. An Italian paradox, certainly, but beyond the content of the almost draw, this challenge with the Turks has become decisive for the future of the national team. Alas, not in the field, of course. It was however in the decision to continue with the blue of Roberto Mancini.
And yesterday the coach listed his ‘why’ he decided to remain at the helm of the national team. Here they are: “Because I am still young: my goal was to win a European Cup and a World Cup, and therefore for the World Cup – explained the coach – we have to postpone for a while. Because I love my job and because I think I can have fun and reorganize. Something important with the boys. Apart from the disappointment of not being able to please anyone next November and December (the World Cup in Qatar editor’s note), the rest then continues”.
Here it is, thought Mancini. A reflection that draws directly from the ambition to build something important no matter what. And from this point of view, Turkey-Italy is not just a starting point, but the main reason for the coach’s stay.
If it hadn’t been for this race and therefore the continuation of the blue retreat, probably Mancio would have made other thoughts, pushing on the accelerator of the separation until the farewell. Instead, it turned out that the blue retreat became an ideal, almost monastic place to reflect and, above all, to garner the affection and unconditional trust of the group and the Federation. In particular of President Gabriele Gravina who from the first hours, although he had to digest the blow, worked in diplomacy and the “compass”, giving Mancini the certainty of wanting to continue the journey together. The coach underlined how with Gravina there is an “alignment” on everything and how absolutely stimulating it is to have to somehow (re)build the team in view of the European Championship of 2024 and to the next World Cup.
Mancini expected “very tough days” after the elimination. He said it immediately after the knockout with Macedonia. He believed, that is, the river would be full of attacks, however fierce, in addition to harsh criticism. A classic for coaches who are falling out of favor. And instead he received a lot of understanding, he and the team – of course, there are, as is normal, who would have liked to replace him – in relation to the sporting drama experienced, not only by a great part of the press, but also by many Azzurri fans. . And this thing weighed, and how: “Normally these things don’t happen and it can make me happy. During these four years, we have done our best not only to try to win, but also to play different football, and we succeeded. Despite the great disappointment for us and the Italians, I was happy that what we did was appreciated. I think the boys deserved it: there was not just one European Championship but a three-year course with a series of matches without suffering defeats”.