It tells you everything about the Italy manager Giampiero Ventura that the 69-year-old’s World Cup qualifying campaign in charge of the team had been so bad that, had his side beaten Sweden in the play-offs, there was still a chance he would be replaced before the finals next summer.
As it was the old boy looked lost on the touchline as his side fizzled out in a 0-0 draw at San Siro, losing 1-0 on aggregate, the very antithesis of the capable, shrewd coach that Italy has exported to the world, and he did not turn up for his post-match press conference until well past midnight. As of Tuesday afternoon he had still failed to resign, assumed to be hanging on for what is a €600,000 compensation clause written into the second contract he has signed with the Italian football federation (FIGC).
When Italy went out of the 2014 World Cup at the group stages, the resignation of coach Cesare Prandelli was immediate and so too was that of Giancarlo Abete, then president of the FIGC. It is the way they prefer it in times of national crisis although there has been no recent failure like this in Italy, an international force with four World Cups stars on the Azzurri shirt and a constant in tournaments, if rarely the great entertainers.