Luciano Spalletti gave his first press conference as Italy head coach and gave some ideas of how he plans to take the team forward ahead of the EURO 2024 qualifiers. The former Napoli boss was formally announced last week but was unveiled to the press yesterday, explaining his motivations for taking the position and what to expect from his Azzurri side:
“Thank you to the Federation for giving me this wonderful task. They were intense days, in which they had to give me all those elements to be able to develop my work. I spent a lot of time at Coverciano, the University of Football. I learnt a lot of things that I have brought back to my work. To be here at my presentation as coach is an indescribable emotion, a dream that goes way back. I was 11 years old, at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico I went to ask my mum to make me an Italian flag to celebrate the 4-3 win over Germany. Now I’ll bring this Italy flag back on the pitch when I go on the bench. We must hope to revive the dream of that flag in all the children who watch the Italian national team’.
“I was motivated from the first phone call I received. Napoli was a beautiful experience, something overwhelming. The release clause (in his contract with Napoli. ed.)? Nothing will make me back down from thinking I made the right decision. There are things we have to put right. The lawyers are at work, I hope we can reach a solution soon.”
“I reflect myself in the happiness of others. I can’t be happy if I don’t see the people around me happy. Naples and the Neapolitans have been my happiness. Those who wear the national team jersey must be happy, through this happiness they will be able to give their best. We need to belong to this jersey because it is not just any jersey. We have champions who have shown that they belong to the national team: I am thinking of Buffon, Mazzola, Riva, Rivera, Baresi, Maldini and Baggio. In these days I have heard Marcello Lippi, his advice is important. These champions are always with us, even those who are no longer with us like Gianluca Vialli. They are our guiding spirits’.
“Call ups? We will play two important matches, we need international depth and experience. I have not summoned an exaggerated number of players, I will be sorry when I send someone to the stands. I know how difficult it is for the coach to do this. I left Verratti and Jorginho at home because, as they don’t have minutes, it’s unthinkable to bring them in.”
“Club-national team relationship? The good of the national team is the good of Italian football. I’ll try to have a continuous relationship with the coaches, I’ve already started calling someone. In Serie A, out of 570 registered players, only 150 are convocable. We have no alibis, but a history that has shown us the way”.
“Do I take the European champion national team or the one that didn’t go to the World Cup? I don’t take results. From Mancini I inherit a good national team. He won a European Championship, 37 consecutive games and launched many youngsters, with talent that can be useful to us. We want to play football that resembles a strong nation like Italy”.
“Responsibility sometimes crushes you, but to be a strong person you have to have responsibility. The task the president has given me is one of utmost responsibility. The national team is really important, we must all have responsibility and without this I cannot give the best of myself.”
“We want to play with a 4-man defence, but many play in a 5-man defence. We have to be a team that tries to go for the ball. Only two things count in football: pressure and building. Everything else comes as a consequence. If you press well, you win back sooner. If you manage well, we play the game we want and take the opponent where we want them to go.”
“Registas? We have several in the team. Locatelli plays as a regista in Juventus, there are also other players like Cristante who played a great game last night and has that physicality that can help you in some developments. We’ll start with a 4-3-3 and then, if we need to be more attacking-minded, we can add an attacking midfielder and use a 4-2-3-1 formation.”
“A centre forward? In Italy there are some who can wear the national team jersey. I haven’t called up Kean and Scamacca for minutes, I’ve called up three who I’m going to meet. The physical striker has specific characteristics, we’ll try to exploit the qualities of our players. There are 1-2 players who can cover the role of central striker despite having played in other positions”.