By Gautam Sharma
The first shot has been fired. The intent is now clear. The Revolution. Has Just Begun.
Italy lost their first game under Prandelli to Ivory Coast. But the intent was clear. Prandelli plans to completely reconstruct the Azzurri from scratch. And I think that not only was this long due, it is infact the best thing to happen to Italian football since the 2006 World Cup final.
Italy had the oldest squad in 2006 World Cup. Lippi, at the hieght of his career then, focussed on experience and team spirit. It was beautiful. A glorious win, bringing delight to all azzurri fans. Experience became Italy's strength in that summer.
And experience became Italy's curse after that summer. Coz experience started becoming bigger than talent. We all know what happened, and in the process a generation of Italian talent was wasted.
So Prandelli lost his debut game. But this loss showed more promise than any of the wins in the last 4 years. As they say, Rome was not built in a day. Completely re-constructing a great team from scratch will take time... and patience. The result of Prandelli's first game was not the most important thing. The significance of the statement he made in that loss was far more important than the result. The clear brave intent to build something completely new. New players (Balotelli, Amauri, Cassano, Motta, Sirigu, etc), younger players (average age dropped by 4 years as compared to the World Cup!) and focus on creativity/talent (Cassano, Balotelli, Rossi, etc).
Compare this with England. While Prandelli is good at building great teams over time, Capello has always about instant results. England went to 2010 World Cup with the oldest squad in the competition. They now need a revolution as bad as Italy do. But Capello is too results oriented to start from scratch. So England only ended up yesterday with a few tweaks here and there. And they won their game. But IMO their win is actually a "defeat in disguise", and Italy's defeat is a triumphant win. Perhaps Capello is too much of a perfectionist to ever be a revolutionary. Italy are well on their way in the quest to seek the answers, England haven't yet begun to ask the questions.
Prandelli, inspite of his debut loss, has ticked all the right boxes. The revolution has begun. And the results will follow in time... Azzurri fans must show patience, but we can hope again!
To hope! :-)