For Roberto Mancini, the path to salvation promises to end where it all began. If Italy beat England by doing Euro 2020 Finals on Sunday that Azzurri Trainer will see the high point of his managerial career on the same side that he went through his low point.
In May 2013, Mancini was named Manchester city Coach after seeing his team lose to relegated Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup Final at Wembley. Eight years later, after taking a detour back to the top, the 56-year-old has the opportunity to emerge from the same stadium as European champion after seeing Italy’s remarkable resurgence as a major force since taking office in the wake of the That the team failed qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
But while Mancini has changed Italy since succeeding Gian Piero Ventura three years ago, he has also reinvented himself after a series of arguments with players, staff and City executives that led to his sacking at Etihad, a year on the day after he had headed the club guiding for the first championship title in 44 years.
Sources at City have told ESPN that Mancini was “challenging,” “difficult,” and a “chameleon” during his four-year tenure at the club, and that while he charmed the media and supporters with his publicity, his demeanor stood behind the scenes that of a confrontational and stormy “diva” who lost the support of influential players.
But at the EM 2020 the only noises from the Italy camp about Mancini are positive. Both Marco Verratti and Federico Bernardeschi have credited the former Inter Milan coach for having brought the “excitement” back to the national team while defender Leonardo Bonucci said: “He’s a top manager when it comes to taking the pressure off the players and bringing enthusiasm and lightheartedness into the squad. That gives us a lot of confidence.”
Mancini’s decision to have the opinions of veteran players like Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini is a further indication of his development from the hardline manager who brought success and sharpness to City to the more collegial coach who is now a victory away from Italy’s first European title since 1968.
Wembley victory eight years after losing Wigan will square the circle for Mancini after his reputation was damaged by his departure from City.
Despite winning an FA Cup and the Premier League at Etihad, he hasn’t gotten a job in English football since – he even enrolled his daughter at a high school in London at one point in the hopes of an offer – and it only ended up in Italy when no other credible candidate came forward.
Unsuccessful spells for Galatasaray and Zenit Saint Petersburg, on either side of a fruitless two-year tenure at Inter, suggested Mancini’s career was drifting in the wild, but Euro 2020 made him a coaching star again.
How did City go so wrong after this initial success and why did it take so long for Mancini to get back to the top?
According to those who worked with him at City, Mancini’s eccentricities, superstitions, and the club’s demands ultimately led to his sacking and his meandering journey back to prominence.
“Roberto was certainly very nervous,” said a former City colleague. “He made the club successful and signed some of the best players the City has ever had, but in the end he just fell out with too many people and made too many enemies.”
There were high profile, public squabbles with Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli – “Carlos f-ing hated Mancini,” a source told ESPN – while his indulgence for Balotelli angered many older players who were angry at the player’s continued failure to deliver. Despite being photographed fighting Balotelli on the training pitch, Mancini still gave the striker countless opportunities to rehabilitate himself long after his teammates had given him up.
Star players like Samir Nasri, Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart the brunt of public criticism, while Mancini called injured defense attorney Micah Richards “Swarovski” because he was “fragile as a crystal”.
Mancini also did not think of criticizing the hierarchy of the city in the media and questioning the competence of the then football director Brian Marwood for not signing Robin van Persie arsenal after winning the title in 2012. Van Persie signed with Manchester United instead, and his goals subsequently delivered the title to Old Trafford a year later.
Mancini’s superstitions also made his approach to the job questionable and whether it was too distracting.
“Roberto had a superstition about everything,” said a city source. “He didn’t want purple in the club, he insisted on using a tiny booth for press conferences instead of a large marquee because he thought it was lucky – he even insisted that a press conference be held in the FA Cup semi-finals.” in the cabin even though it is very hot outside.
“There was one occasion on which he insisted that the players on their return flight from a Champions League game against. Ate meatballs real Madrid because that was what they had after the last European game before winning the next league game.
“We spent a day and a half in Madrid to find some meatballs for the flight home. When we were told that we couldn’t just order a la carte for a meal on board, Roberto suggested we make a large vat of meatballs and He’s giving it to the players so they can take it with them on the plane. I don’t think he got away with it. “
On another occasion, after a Europa League game against Juventus in Turin, Mancini refused to fly back to Manchester immediately after the game because of the sub-zero temperatures and concerns about ice on the wings. The flight was postponed until the next morning, so players and staff had to check-in at their hotel at 1am.
Italy and England will meet in the Euro 2020 final. See how each side has brought themselves to the brink of glory.
But although Mancini could rage behind the scenes over staff and players, he was a smiling and joking presence in the media. He provided journalists with espresso at his press conferences and took the Manchester press kit with him to lunch at Cicchetti, one of the city’s favorite Italian restaurants.
And City fans adored him for wearing a blue and white scarf on the sidelines and for being the first club manager with the attitude and confidence to engage in verbal battles with Sir Alex Ferguson at United.
Mancini knew how to play the PR game, but it wasn’t always what it seemed. He often cycled to the club’s training ground, knowing full well that the photographers would be waiting along the way, but the club staff said that if it rained a driver followed him on the way or if he just wanted to cancel the trick on a few occasions.
He was also empathetic over his lifetime as a city manager. It was his aggressive style that the club needed in the first few years after the 2008 takeover of Abu Dhabi to accelerate its progression to becoming a winner, but he knew he could only last a limited time.
When asked about his excitement about the club’s plans for a new world-class training facility, he hadn’t expected to set foot on it. “There’s no point in asking me what plants to put in my office,” he said. “It won’t be my office when it opens.”
However, Mancini’s success with Italy suggests he may get another job in the Premier League after all. The Italian has been unbeaten in 33 games ahead of Sunday’s final – a sequence that dates back to September 2018 – and he has undoubtedly breathed new life into one of the game’s great footballing nations.
His future with Italy seems secured in the long term after signing a new contract in May that will keep him at the job until after the 2026 World Cup, but he will be in great demand again in the club game after the 2020 Euro.
However, the immediate concern for Mancini is Sunday’s win. Nothing else can possibly matter at the moment. But don’t worry if the Italians are late for the game.
“When City beat United in the 2011 FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley, the team bus took a route to the stadium that went against police advice,” a City source told ESPN. “But because we won that day, Roberto insisted that we go the same route to Wembley for the final against Stoke, even though the police made it clear we would not get an escort to the ground.
“Roberto held onto his guns and the bus took the same route as before – and we got into traffic, got delayed and showed up at Wembley less than an hour before kick-off. The players didn’t even have time for a walk ”on the pitch before the game. But we won the FA Cup that day so Roberto will still say he was right. “