| RIO DE JANEIRO
RIO DE JANEIRO Former Inter Milan and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has emerged as the early favourite to be the next Italy coach after Cesare Prandelli resigned following the Azzurri’s World Cup exit on Tuesday.
Italy’s 1-0 defeat by Uruguay sent them out of the tournament following a loss to Costa Rica and a win over England in Group D and Prandelli said he took responsibility for the failure.
Influential daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport cited Mancini as the most likely to be offered the job along with former AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Mancini is available after leaving Turkish club Galatasaray this month and he has the backing of Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
“I think of the names being mentioned, Mancini is the most appropriate – he is relatively young but has experience. He has coached in Italy and internationally, he has won in Italy and abroad,” Mihajlovic, who was a team mate of Mancini’s at Lazio, told Gazzetta.
“The way he behaves, the way he is as man he is the right image for Italy as well. Maybe after all the years of daily work he would be ready for a different role,” said Mihajlovic, who said he had not spoken to the coach.
Mancini, who won the Premier League with City and Serie A with Inter, might have to take a lower salary than in club football and that could be a sticking point.
But he does have experience of working with Italy striker Mario Balotelli at City and he could be seen as someone who could get the most out of the unpredictable and inconsistent forward who had a poor World Cup.
The other names in the frame include former Udinese and Roma coach Luciano Spalletti who was sacked by Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg in March and Alberto Zaccheroni, the ex-Milan coach, whose Japan team were eliminated at the group stage on Tuesday.
Whoever takes over the job faces a difficult task of turning around a team who were a major disappointment in Brazil.
With playmaker Andrea Pirlo having said he will retire from the national team following this tournament there is a lack of real international quality in the squad and question marks over the younger generation who failed to shine in the tournament.
Midfielder Daniele De Rossi was scathing in his assessment of some of his team mates.
“We need real men, not Panini stickers or characters. These are of no use to the national team,” said the Roma player.
"Those who don't feel like instilling the same commitment, who don't have the same passion, can stay at home."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)