«I left alone. And I went out with Spain and Sweden »- Corriere.it

Of Andrea Sereni

The former coach compares his elimination with today’s: «Mancini is right to continue, Gravina in Palermo was sitting next to him, he supported him. Before the playoffs my national team was already contested, I went by to be the only culprit “

«In Palermo, after the defeat against North Macedonia, President Gravina was sitting next to Mancini. I was alone at San Siro, the only culprit. I’ve never found it right. ‘

Gian Piero Ventura struggles to talk about his national team. It is a wound that marked him, “a mistake I paid for.” He replies from Bari, what has become his home since he married Luciana in 2016, with the usual ringing and strong voice, which cracks a bit when he talks about Italy. A displeasure that has subsided, yet he struggles to get off his back. But football is his focus: in November he greeted “only the bench”, he specifies.

Stationary from summer 2020, 74 years old in January, Chievo and Salernitana the last two experiences, Ventura is ready to restart: «I don’t want to train anymore, but the ball is my life. I would be happy to bring my experience to some company ». He has launched many talents, from Darmian to Immobile, he wants to try again but in a different guise: «It was right that I dedicated some time to my family, and I did. Should an opportunity be created, I would be ready, competitive and determined ». He metabolized the nightmare Sweden, his Italy “is the past”.

Roberto Mancini, who like you did not qualify for the World Cup, has decided to remain at the helm of the national team. Ventura, is Roberto right to continue?
“I think so, there are all the conditions to resume the speech interrupted in Palermo.”

Did you talk after the match against Macedonia?
“No, not this time. I sent him a message for the Europeans, I congratulated him ».

How do you go from a European won to a failure to qualify for the World Cup?

“There had been signs in the last few months. It was too hard to score. During the European Championship the team was courageous, beautiful in some plays, light. Against Macedonia those feelings have become fatigue, breathlessness, fear. They have lost certainties ».

Did it feel like you were reliving Italy-Sweden?
“In some ways, yes. But the context was completely different. Before the playoffs my national team was already contested. Yet I dated Sweden and Spain, but I don’t like making comparisons. If I then think of certain images: for example Gravina in Palermo was close to Mancini, to his coach, he gave him support ».

What remains of that night?
«I smiled in recent days reading some statements, some newspapers:“ In football it can happen ”,“ Hunt for the guilty ”. In 2017 there was only one. I found it incorrect to have to take all the blame. But by now I have passed it, I hope that Italy will soon be back among the best teams in the world ».

Is Italian football deteriorating in its quality?
“It stopped a bit on the level of ideas, it’s less fun. There was Gasperini’s exploit with Atalanta, then a few years ago Sarri’s Napoli. For the rest it doesn’t seem to me to be an exciting moment ».

Where is the most pressing problem in your opinion?
«We have difficulty in scoring and the strikers are criticized, but there is no Italian striker among the top six Serie A teams. We played for the qualification for the World Cup with naturalized players, a sign that something is wrong, it is evident. But we only discuss it after a failure, in a week we will be focused again on Juventus-Inter. We need concrete reforms, it is not enough to talk about them, and a different relationship between the clubs and the national team: it cannot be seen as a nuisance, it should be the reference for the whole system. And then there are too many games, often the players come back tired or injured. It’s like a cat biting its own tail. ‘

What can be the solution?
«We must give more importance to the youth sectors, technique must prevail over tactics. Before at football schools, kids spent hours with the ball at their feet, tactics were the least of the problems. If you don’t have the technique how can you play? ».

Then?
“Young people must have time and space to grow. Among the strikers of the national team, many have never played in the Champions League. International experience is needed, it gives you awareness. With the growth decree, many players arrived from abroad, some not even so good. Putting a stop to foreign players in our football, and thus freeing some boys, can make sense ».

What role do the coaches play in this transition?
«They are often in difficulty, forced to obtain everything immediately because without results they go home. The Ventura-Cairo duo in Turin worked because I didn’t have the ambition to get to who knows where. My lust was to launch talents: Zappacosta, Cerci, Immobile, just to name a few. The company was in symbiosis with me. So it makes sense, but usually in Serie A a coach knows that he risks his place without results, so he wastes no time in making the young players grow ».

Do you like the Var?
“Useful as a general concept, but in some cases it’s a strange tool. For the evaluations of evident episodes sometimes take five minutes, it also perplexes me to report an offside of a millimeter. But it has eliminated many complicated situations, bringing more balance. Once certain matches were impossible to play, I lost some derbies in a bizarre way ».

Who wins the Scudetto?
«I think it’s a three-way challenge. Inter are missing a deputy Brozovic, but otherwise they are the team with the best squad. In Turin against Juventus it is decisive: if he wins he can have an important injection of confidence, if he loses everything becomes more difficult. Napoli has a high level staff: Osimhen is devastating, Anguissa was a happy intuition, Koulibaly is the best central in Europe. But it stopped in two direct confrontations. At Milan, on the other hand, there is a total union between club and team: as players they are younger, perhaps they lack inexperience, but it is a real group. For this reason, having to choose, I say the Rossoneri ».

When will we see you on the track again?
“I hope soon. I’m not looking for a contract, I don’t care, I need adrenaline, I think I can still be useful ». We are convinced of it.

March 30, 2022 (change March 30, 2022 | 08:25)

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