Italy begin new era with appointment of former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

Wed, May 16 2018

Mancini pictured ahead of the inaugural and final Dublin Super Cup in 2011. Credit: Declan Furey

Italy have appointed former Inter and Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini as their new manager as they look to rebuild after failing to qualify for next month's World Cup in Russia.

The Italian football federation, FIGC, reached a settlement with Zenit St Petersburg to release the former Bologna, Sampdoria and Lazio striker from his contract early.

53-year-old Mancini will take the reins for the first time when Italy face Saudi Arabia in St Gallen on May 28th, before facing France in Nice and the Netherlands in Turin in June.

The Azzurri parted company with Gian Piero Ventura following their surprise 1-0 play-off defeat to Sweden in November, and Luigi Di Biagio has assumed caretaker charge in the meantime.

It was the first time the Italians have failed to qualify for a World Cup in 60 years when, coincidentally, the host country was Sweden.

"To become the Italy coach is a source of pride," said Mancini in his first press conference.

"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 ake everybody agree.

“Every fan sees football in their own way. You need to win an important trophy to create unity."

Mancini – who didn't rule out attempting to coax veterans Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi out of retirement – said he will let the players at his disposal dictate how he chooses to play.

"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.

“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."

Mancini won Serie A three times as Inter coach (the first being awarded after Juventus had their championship revoked) and the Premier League once with Manchester City.

Since being sacked as Manchester City boss in 2014, Mancini has had spells in charge of Galatasaray, Inter (for a second time) and, most recently, Zenit.