The Italian Football Federation has surprisingly announced the resignation of Roberto Mancini from his role as Italy national team coach. The 58-year-old manager leaves after a five-year stint at the Azzurri which saw him win the 2020 Euros and set the record for the longest unbeaten run in international football – 37 matches without a loss over a period of three years. At the same time, Mancini's spell cannot be considered an unequivocal success as Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after losing to North Macedonia in the play-offs.
With the Azzurri set to play their next matches in just a month and with Euro 2024 qualification on the line, the Italian Football Federation has vowed to announce the next manager in the coming days.
List of Potential Next Italy Managers
As per reports in Italy, Antonio Conte and Luciano Spalletti are viewed as favourites to succeed Mancini, although it would take a lot of negotiations to bring them in. The other names on the list may be more or less exciting for the fans depending on what kind of football they want to see Italy play.
Antonio Conte was sacked from Tottenham Hotspur last spring and has not found himself a new job since. His spell with Spurs was a turbulent one: while he brought the club back to Champions League in his first season, the second season was mostly characterized by conflicts with the club and the squad. However, fans in Italy should remember his solid work at Inter Milan, Chelsea and Juventus in the past – more often than not, Conte is the recipe for instant, short-term success due to his defensive approach.
The 54-year-old also has positive experience coaching the national team (2014 to 2016) as he led Italy to the 2016 Euros quarter-finals, having eliminated defending champions Spain in the previous round and only losing to Germany on penalties. Conte quit the national team right after the tournament as he expressed desire to return to club football.
It remains to be seen whether Antonio Conte will agree to a second stint, but a one-year contract ending after the 2024 Euros may be an agreeable option for all parties involved.
In the 2022/23 season, Luciano Spalletti brought the Serie A title back to Napoli for the first time since 1990. The gaffer also took Napoli to their first ever Champions League quarter-finals, all while playing some of the most exciting football in Europe. It was obvious that the stress and pressure was taking its toll, though, and at the end of the season, Spalletti resigned from his position to take a one-year sabbatical from coaching.
Perhaps the opening at Italy will change the manager’s mind, as – unlike Conte – he’s never had the chance to work with the national team. Spalletti has a long and convincing CV, starting in the 1990s and passing through such clubs as AS Roma, Inter Milan and Napoli. However, coaching the Azzurri, if it happens, may end up being the height of his career.
The fans may prefer Spalletti over any other names on the list due to his attacking, proactive approach which goes against the Italian tradition but has also proven capable of bringing home the result.
Massimiliano Allegri is the only manager on the list which is currently employed, as he has a contract with Juventus until 2025. Things are not going as smoothly as in his first stint (2014-2019) with La Vecchia Signora – the club is swarmed by off-the-field controversies which resulted in a 10-point deduction for Juve last term and a ban from competing in Europe. And on top of that, the fans are unhappy with Allegri’s defensive tactics.
This is to say that Allegri has little arguments in favour of continuing at Juventus if the Italian Football Federation comes knocking. Only the salary may be an issue, as the 56-year-old is currently one of the best-paid managers in Europe.
When it comes to coaching style, Allegri is the archetypal Italian coach who puts defensive security first. This approach has brought him to the Champions League final twice and won him six Serie A titles (one at AC Milan, five at Juventus).
Gennaro Gattuso is the first manager on this list that was part of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning team. His coaching career has been less successful, though. While his AC Milan and Napoli sides showed good football at times, they still struggled with consistency. Gattuso never managed to secure Champions League football with the two clubs, and his top achievement is the 2019/20 Coppa Italia win with Napoli.
Gattuso’s last job was at Valencia in La Liga, and that experience was even less flattering. The Italian coach left Los Che by mutual consent in January 2023 despite having 18 months left on his deal with his team fighting relegation.
Perhaps surprisingly, Gattuso the coach is opposed to Gattuso the player as he tries to implement an attacking brand of football, betting on intensity and possession. However, he still lacks experience and seems less versed when it comes to tactics, so his appointment may be seen as too risky.
If you are a big fan of the Italy national team, you should remember that it was Fabio Grosso who scored the winning penalty in the 2006 World Cup final against France. But even so, you may not be aware that Grosso has gone to become a coach after his retirement in 2012, and that is because his managerial career has been underwhelming.
Fabio started as a U19 coach at the Juventus academy and moved to senior football in 2018 when appointed by Serie B side Bari. Except for his short stay at Sion in Switzerland, Grosso has never coached at a level above Serie B, having also gone through the likes of Hellas Verona, Brescia and Frosinone. Grosso’s biggest brag is the Serie B win with Frosinone last season, but he left the club later in the summer on contract expiry.
Reports say that the 45-year-old is being considered for the Italy job due to his good relationship with federation president Gabriele Gravina. But considering his experience (or lack thereof), Grosso would be an even riskier appointment than Gattuso.