Roberto Mancini Stepped down as manager of the Italian National Team in mid-August after 5 years in charge of the Azzurri, and now former Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti is set to take charge of Italy after coming off an exceptional season with Napoli taking them to third scudetto in the club's history.
Spalletti comes into the national team at the right time, just before their next set of European Championship Qualifiers against North Macedonia and Ukraine. Is he the change Italy needs to return to being a powerhouse of international football?
Roberto Mancini's resignation from the Italian National Team will come as no surprise. Whilst his time in charge had highs such as winning the Euro 2020 Championships, it had its problems as Mancini had failed to help Italy qualify for a successive World Cup. This included their last qualifying game against North Macedonia were they lost 1-0, and whilst the Tifosi will forever be grateful to Mancini for leading Italy to win a major tournament, ultimately, a change in management was long overdue.
Luciano Spalletti cut his year-long sabbatical from football short as he was announced as Italy's new manager a few days after Mancini's departure. Spalletti comes into the national team setup after two years managing Napoli and comes off their outstanding 22/23 campaign. They won their 3rd Scudetto in the club's history after a dominant second half of the season where they ran riot in the Serie A, and the other top teams couldn't catch up.
Under Mancini, the selection of players has sometimes been too conservative and was seen as the easier option, such as the team that lost 1-0 to North Macedonia was only partly changed from the Euro 2020 winning squad and ultimately did not pay off.
However, Spalletti is a more demanding manager and can be very intense, which is what the Azzurri need to turn their Euro 2024 qualification around. He demands high effort from all of his players, and this was clear in Napoli's successful Scudetto-winning season, so he will not be shy in choosing who he sees is fit to play under him even if that means leaving at home some of the national team regulars.
Italy failed to qualify for a successive World Cup after their Euro success and went into qualification feeling as if they were phenoms; they went into it with a giant chip on their shoulder. They ultimately struggled severely and were eventually humbled by North Macedonia in the playoffs.
However, under the management of Spalletti, he will be able to change the identity of the National Team by instilling a renewed sense of tactical discipline, fostering a cohesive team spirit and implementing innovative strategies that emphasise and improve individual talents. Spalletti is known to enhance his players. His Napoli team, under his management, was revolutionised through his playing style.
Luciano Spalletti will shortly have his first chance to show the Tifosi that he is the right person for the job as, on the 9th of September, Italy resume their Euro qualification and will be looking to get redemption against North Macedonia. They then face Ukraine three days later. These are two crucial fixtures that they will need to win if they are to move towards qualification, let alone closing down group leaders England.