Milan: Roberto Mancini takes charge of his first competitive game as Italy coach in Friday’s Nations League opener against Poland in Bologna with the tough task of rekindling the nation’s love affair with their national side, decimated after the low of their World Cup fiasco.
The former Inter Milan and Manchester City boss was appointed in May after the four-time winners’ shock failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
Mancini’s job will be to rebuild a new and vibrant side going into the European Championships in two years’ time and heading towards the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The Nations League, in which Italy will also be up against European champions Portugal in Group 3, will have an impact on seeding for Euro 2020.
Italy do not deserve to stay where we are now, we’re all motivated to do well. I can guarantee you that this team is not far from the best
Jorginho / Italy midfielder
And the 53-year-old has insisted that a key to his strategy was to bring in new blood after the departure of several veterans, including iconic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy have plummeted to an all-time low of 21st in the FIFA rankings. But Mancini said he wanted to ‘try something different’ and focus on youth, with four uncapped players.
Mancini called on the coaches of Serie A squads to give younger players more playing time to build on their potential. “We’re trying to send a strong message from Coverciano. We’re convinced that those who play well at youth level can do so even at a higher level,” said Mancini.
“At this historic moment there are not many Italian players playing on a consistent basis. Because of this, we have included many young players to increase the number of players so we can get to know them better,” he concluded.