The Italian national team have announced their replacement for Antonio Conte who is set to join English Premier League giant Chelsea FC this summer. Conte will assume the position after leading the Italian team to the Euro 2016 in France.
The replacement is Giampiero Ventura - a 68 year old who has bags of experience but also has fans voicing concerns as the coach has never won a major title and has spent much of his career in the lower divisions.
The tactician was announced on Monday and has been tasked to prepare the team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The chief of the Italian federation (FIGC), Carlo Tavecchio, confirming his appointment, described the coach as a "master of football." Tavecchio on FIGC website said "I chose Ventura because he is a master of football and has taught many other coaches his innovative methods. He has launched the careers of so many players in the national team, he has huge experience in training youngsters and I think he has a healthy sense of belonging."
Ventura has enjoyed a long, steady coaching career in Italy but has only worked with small clubs except one season at Napoli. He has coached Sampdoria, Lecce, Cagliari, Venezia, Pisa, Bari, Verona, Messina, Udinese and Spezia. The tactician has never lifted a major trophy; say Serie A or the Italian Cup, although he led Lecce to the third tier Serie C title in 1996.
He has the respect of football lovers in Italy following a five-year spell with Torino when he led them out of Serie B, helping them to decent finishes in the middle and upper half of Serie A.
Based on the new deal with the national team, he will quit Torino by mutual agreement at the end of this season.
Whilst some doubt his appointment, there are doubts still for the Italian national team, set to play at the European Championships in France. Despite defeating their Finnish counterpart in a pre tournament friendly on Monday, the Italian Press are still unsure on the team’s best set up even though there were a lot of improvements needed if they were to make a real impact at the continental tournament.
Dutch referee Bas Nijhuis presided over the game which the Azzurri won 2-0, making it the first time they won consecutive friendly games since 2014. The defence put up decent performance especially Antonio Candreva but the game still revealed the limitations the team has few days to their first opening game in France.
The defence, made primarily from Juventus include veteran Gianluigi Buffon at the goal posts and centre-backs Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, did well in not allowing a shot on target as Scotland and Finland combined for two shots total in the two matches. Though Salvatore Sirigu was on duty ahead of first choice Buffon against Finland, the defence left him to stroll around for the entire match.
One of the good things the team has going is the movement from the defence to the attack - Chiellini and Barzagli moved forward several times, helping the team’s attack.
Conte will need to allow the defence to bypass the midfield to get the attack going in France - with the team’s players in Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti injured, they are left with fewer options. Daniele De Rossi and Thiago Motta remain in the middle of the park but the midfield remains dangerously low on creativity.
Conte was condemned for his decision to leave out youngsters such as Napoli's Jorginho in the absence of Verratti, especially as he decided to leave out veteran Andrea Pirlo, but the team seem to have done ok so far...