Re­build­ing be­gins

Mancini vows to re­store pride af­ter tak­ing big pay cut for the Ital­ian job

Sport360 - - Latest News - By David Cooper @Sport360 ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Tues­day said he wanted to re­store pride in the na­tional side six months af­ter their shock fail­ure to qual­ify for the World Cup.

Italy have been with­out a per­ma­nent coach since Gian Piero Ven­tura was sacked af­ter the four-time world cham­pi­ons failed to qual­ify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

For­mer Manch­ester City and In­ter Mi­lan coach Mancini signed a two-year deal on Mon­day af­ter sev­er­ing his lu­cra­tive con­tract with Rus­sians Zenit Saint Peters­burg.

The con­tract, re­port­edly worth ¤2 mil­lion a year, will see Mancini lead Italy’s bid to qual­ify for Euro 2020. If suc­cess­ful, it will be au­to­mat­i­cally ex­tended un­til June 2022, ahead of the World Cup.

“Not go­ing to the World Cup is dif­fi­cult for those who, like us, have al­ways been cheer­ing for the na­tional team,” Mancini told a press con­fer­ence at the na­tional train­ing cen­tre at Cover­ciano, near Florence. “I feel the need to do some­thing for the na­tional team and think it’s the right time for me. I want to build some­thing for the years to come and bring Italy back to the top.”

The Ital­ian fed­er­a­tion had been look­ing for a pres­ti­gious coach to re­build an Az­zurri side dec­i­mated af­ter their play-off de­feat to Swe­den in the San Siro last Novem­ber.

Mancini will give up a re­ported ¤13 mil­lion in wages over the two re­main­ing years on his Zenit con­tract to do na­tional ser­vice.

“Mancini gave up sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties to do so. This is tes­ti­mony to his com­plete de­ter- mi­na­tion and de­sire to take on this job,” said Ital­ian FA com­mis­sioner Roberto Fab­bricini.

His first match in charge will be a friendly on May 28 against Saudi Ara­bia in Switzer­land.

Mancini said there would be “room for every­one” in his squad and that he planned to re­call in-form Nice striker Mario Balotelli, whom he coached at In­ter and Manch­ester City.

Balotelli has not played for his coun­try since the 2014 World Cup.

“Even in dif­fi­cult times, Italy can boast of hav­ing play­ers of great qual­ity. I will cer­tainly also speak with Balotelli,” said Mancini. “He’s a player that we want to see at the level he had dur­ing the Euro (2012 when Italy reached the fi­nal).”

He also said he would talk to re­cently re­tired Italy great An­drea Pirlo about join­ing his coach­ing setup.

All smiles: Roberto Mancini was un­veiled as Az­zurri boss on Tues­day.

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