Published on November 16th, 2017 | by Vieri Capretta0
5 ways to save Italian football after the World Cup apocalypse
Italy is still suffering from the ultimate hangover of a failure to qualify for Russia 2018, but there are five solutions to save the country’s football soul
The apocalypse is the end of the world as we know it, but life in Italy goes on despite the national team not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Where does Italian football go from here? Two solutions must be implemented, but only one of them will surely take place: a superficial reaction, that will involve a change in the national team – coach and players – to get results, and a deep-rooted reaction, that would involve getting rid of all the rotten parts of the beautiful game in Italy. The latter is unlikely to ever happen.
1) A new coach
The change at a surface level is just as important in terms of getting results straight away: Italy need to get back on their feet and book a spot at the next European Championships with a solid performance at the brand new UEFA competition, the Nations League.
For this to happen, a charismatic new coach is needed. Carlo Ancelotti would be perfect, and seems to be the main name. Alongside him, another big name to help out: Paolo Maldini. He can help in the management and can oversee the growth of young talent.
2) A new squad
Which takes us on to the next point: young players need to be thrown in at the deep end and earn precious minutes with Italy. Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli have bid farewell. Thank you very much for your service, but something new is needed.
Young defenders, new energy in midfield, fresh talent up front. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Daniele Rugani, Mattia Caldara, Antonio Barreca, Federico Chiesa, Federico Bernardeschi, Manuel Locatelli, Lorenzo Pellegrini and many more: they all need time and space to prove themselves and grow into the next national team.
3) A new president
This is on a superficial level. What is much more unlikely to happen – yet just as crucial – is a deep-rooted change. Carlo Tavecchio has sacked coach Gian Piero Ventura, but decided not to resign, holding on to his position as president of the Federation. To many, it’s incredible, considering the failure to qualify for a World Cup for the first time in 60 years. He will stay. And this is already something that should have changed.
4) A new club approach
At a club level, more revenue is needed to keep up with the top European leagues and clubs. All Italian teams should aim to own the stadiums they play in, rather than rent them from their local authorities, and a more equal division of TV rights could see smaller clubs return to a competitiveness that would be benefit at all levels, and impact on the development of young talents.
Tavecchio started a new system of federal youth centres to develop youngsters, on a similar format to those used in France and Germany, but for now Italy hasn’t seen the benefits of it. Maybe it is too early, or maybe it simply isn’t run in the correct way, giving space to youngsters to flourish and grow. Often Italian youth teams are under pressure to get results, rather than see young players grow. A difference in approach compared to other European nations.
5) A new mentality
A change in mentality is needed with youth coaches and in schools, to educate kids to enjoy football in a more productive approach, not necessarily linked to results, although ultimately producing the best results at the top level.
What’s needed is a revolution: it will need time, but should be tried. This is not to say Italy should try and replicate the mentality of other countries, as the differences are the essence of this sport, but take the positives from other examples to grow as a nation in football.
Changing the mentality and approach to football could take time, but a seed needs to be planted to see results. Of course, having the same politicised people in the same old roles will inevitably make things a lot slower. And this is what is happening at the moment, with Tavecchio still glued to his seat. With or without him, the world of Italian football is desperate for an electric shock that can revitalise the system and slowly see it grow again. But it is nowhere to be seen on the horizon.