Roberto Mancini reaches agreement to coach Italy — report

Roberto Mancini is set to agree $2.3 million a year deal to manage Italy. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2018
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Roberto Mancini reaches agreement to coach Italy — report

  • Mancini set to agree $2.3 million a year deal
  • Zenit Saint Petersburg reluctant to let their coach leave

MILAN: Zenit Saint Petersburg manager Roberto Mancini has reached agreement to become the next Italy coach after accepting a pay cut to take the job, according to reports on Tuesday.
Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the 53-year-old Italian has agreed a two-year deal worth €2 million ($2.3 million) a year which will be penned after the end of the Russian season which concludes next Sunday.
Zenit are fifth in the Russian Premier League, ten points behind already-crowned champions Lokomotiv Moscow with one match left.
The Russian club are reportedly reluctant to let Mancini leave and the Italian Football Federation FIGC do not want to pay any compensation to release him from his contract.
The former Italian international joined the Russian club last year on a three-year deal thought to be worth €4.5 million.
The annual budget for the future Italy coach and his backroom staff has been fixed at €5 million.
Italy have been without a permanent coach since Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after losing to Sweden in November.
Italy’s under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio has been filling the position on an interim basis.
During his 17-year coaching career Mancini led Manchester City to their first English league title in 44 years in 2012, and won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan. He also won Italian Cups with Inter, Fiorentina and Lazio.
Meanwhile, Gazzetta also reported that Mancini wants to bring back Mario Balotelli into the national fold, and will ask goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon to play against the Netherlands for a farewell appearance in Turin on June 4.
In-form Nice striker Balotelli, 27, has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for Italy but has not been picked since the 2014 World Cup.
Former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti turned down the opportunity to coach the four-time world champions saying he preferred to stay in club coaching.
“Mine was a choice, I want to coach a club,” Ancelotti told Milan TV. “It was a difficult decision, but I have to listen to what I feel.
“Roberto Mancini is an excellent coach, he is motivated and has international experience. If the next coach was him, I think the national team would be in good hands.”


Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

Updated 17 February 2019
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Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

  • Defeat leaves Real in third, nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
  • Girona had not won in the league since November.

LONDON: Santiago Solari insisted Real Madrid could still win the La Liga title despite a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Girona.
The capital club were coming off a five-match winning streak, but were not able to get past their relegation-threatened rivals at the Bernabeu, conceding twice in the second half after taking a 1-0 half-time lead.
Girona had not won in 13 matches in all competitions and were coming off six straight losses. The Catalan club had not won in the league since November and had entered the weekend one point from the relegation zone. So to say this was a shock would be understating the case, Real were on the up, and this was supposed to be an easy win to aid their slim title hopes and add to the momentum of their good 2019 form.
But Solari — clearly a “glass half full” man — claimed Real’s title charge was far from over. Asked if the title was lost, the Argentine, who took over the asked Julen Lopetegui in October, said: “Not at all, not at all, next week there is another match, our rivals, too. All the matches are difficult, as Girona have shown today, we have to keep winning to try to cut the gap.
“This is football and there is always a rival, in this case Girona, who played well.
“In the second half there was a lot of energy. Girona were forceful when they attacked and we lacked clarity. The fatigue is not only physical, it is mental, concentration. We come from a major bustle, many games with good results, and that may have happened to us at the energy level in the second half. It’s likely.”
The surprise defeat dropped Madrid to third place and left them nine points behind Barcelona, who edged Valladolid 1-0 on Saturday with a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi. The result at the Nou Camp ended a three-game winless run for the Girona neighbors in all competitions.
Madrid had won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the only setback a 1-1 draw at Barca in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. They had cut Barcelona’s lead from 10 points to six in recent rounds after seeing their arch-rivals go through a slump.
Solari made some changes to the starting lineup, leaving Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale on the bench after they started midweek in the 2-1 win at Ajax in the Champions League second round clash.
Casemiro opened the scoring with a firm header from near the penalty spot in the 25th minute after a cross by Toni Kroos, and Girona equalized with a penalty kick converted by Cristhian Stuani in the 65th after a handball by Sergio Ramos inside the area.
Girona had a golden chance to equalize about five minutes before the penalty, when Aleix Garcia’s close-range shot went over the crossbar. The visitors moved in front with a 75th-minute header by Portu after Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois initially saved a shot by Anthony Lozano.
Portu had hit the post a few minutes earlier with a booming shot from inside the area.
Solari put on Vinicius Junior and Bale in the second half, but they were unable to save Real. Courtois made it to the area in a last-gasp attempt, but could not get enough on his header, sending the ball just wide of the post.
As if to emphasize the dire day, Ramos was sent off in 90th minute after receiving a second yellow card.