The Warm-Up: No Italy at the World Cup, but more importantly, no Buffon
Also: Everton are a little confused, and De Rossi gives his manager a fairly significant piece of his mind...
TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
What will a World Cup without Italy be like?
In some ways you have to quite admire Giampiero Ventura. When Italy failed to make it out of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup, Cesare Prandelli resigned on the spot. Similarly, when they were bombed out at the same phase in 2010, Marcelo Lippi accepted full responsibility and quit. Ventura, who after last night’s draw with Sweden (1-0 defeat on aggregate) has become the first Italy coach not to take them to a World Cup since 1958, is clinging on.
“I’m not resigning because I haven’t spoken with the (federation) president,” Ventura said. “We need to evaluate things. We’ll see. I’ll talk with the federation and confront the problem. I feel I have to apologise to Italians after the result.” No kidding.
So what will a World Cup without Italy look like? Most of us will simply not be aware of such a concept, what with them being fixtures at each of the last 14 tournaments. Admittedly this was not an Italian side with stellar names of the past: there was no Paolo Rossi, no Andrea Pirlo, no Gianni Rivera, but there was a Gianluigi Buffon.
The great man has now played his last game for Italy, retiring after the game in floods of tears, and will now inspire a world of football fans to hope Juventus win the Champions League so he can leave the game as a whole in peace. After the match a visibly emotional Buffon said he didn’t want to cry on camera in front of the millions of kids watching. What a man.
Perhaps Italy won’t be missed. Perhaps Sweden will provide as much joy and wonder as even the most average Italy sides have done in the past. Perhaps we’ll actually be glad that Buffon didn’t have to drag himself to Russia only to be on the rough end of a hammering. Probably not, though.
Watford say ‘hands off Marco Silva’ to Everton
If The Warm-Up was an Everton fan, we might be slightly concerned about the direction our club was heading. After taking the not unreasonable decision to shove Ronald Koeman through the managerial trapdoor, they have understandably taken their time in browsing the racks for his replacement.
And yet, a little over three weeks since Koeman was binned, their concept of who his replacement might be and what sort of manager they want is no closer to being made clearer.
Watford manager Marco Silva is prepared to risk another high-profile drubbing by refusing to change his philosophy for the visit of ArsenalPA Sport
Emotional choice David ‘Unsy’ Unsworth has been given four games in which he hasn’t exactly proven himself, but is apparently still under consideration. Apparently they had some chats with Sam Allardyce. Sean Dyche is supposedly on their list. And now an approach for Marco Silva has been turned down by his current club Watford, who unsurprisingly have told Everton to stop sniffing round the manager they only appointed a few months ago.
But it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that there’s a thorough line of thinking at Everton. To oscillate from Allardyce to Silva, two more different managers and personalities it’s tricky to imagine, doesn’t suggest that there’s a grand plan. Perhaps there is no plan, and they’re just clinging on by their fingernails like everyone else. But it would be nice if they at least pretended…
O’Neill lightens the mood for Ireland
Tense old night ahead in Dublin. Nerves jangling. Awful lot at stake in the second leg of the World Cup qualifying playoff between Ireland and Denmark. So it was down to Martin O’Neill to help lighten the mood ahead of the big game, and he did so in his press conference on Monday.
Joshing with the press on subjects as varied as penalties, midfielder David Meyler – or simply ‘Meyler’ as he called the man sitting two feet to his left – and Stan Collymore’s media career with Russia Today, O’Neill gave the impression of a man preparing a sandwich, rather than one preparing a team for probably the biggest game of their careers to date.
Martin O'Neill wants the Republic of Ireland to utilise home advantagePA Sport
So what kind of game will it be? Probably a pretty grim one. “Ireland will play the same way,” Denmark coach Age Hareide said. “They just want us to make mistakes. That’s OK. I haven’t got the patience to play like that. We’ll try to attack.” O’Neill did suggest there will be a little more invention in his side: “We will try to be that bit more expansive if we can and deal with the ball a wee bit better.”
Perhaps Ireland will not be the most flamboyant addition to the tournament in Russia next summer, but it would be quite some achievement if they did make it there, considering the players at their disposal. A tense night lies ahead…
IN OTHER NEWS
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Daniele de Rossi
If and when Ventura does leave Italy, you imagine that for one, Daniele de Rossi will not be especially gutted. During the game last night Ventura, with Italy chasing a goal and desperately needing a victory, he chose to bring the Roma defensive midfielder on rather than the wildly in form Lorenzo Insigne, and De Rossi spoke for a nation when he asked what on earth Ventura was playing at. De Rossi promptly retired after the match.
Zero: Gian Piero Ventura
We could get creative here, but there’s not much point, is there? This might not be a classic Italy side, but dio mio…
"His expression is rather different when asked how an Englishman working abroad feels about Brexit. “I’m a remain man. Absolutely. I think it’s a travesty, personally,” Pearson says. “It’s all right for the Scots and the Welsh to say that they’re Scots and Welsh. But I’m an English-European. I don’t agree with it [Brexit]. I was bloody annoyed, if I’m honest.”"
Admittedly this isn’t an original choice, but five years ago today Zlatan Ibrahimovic did this. With bonus ‘Stan Collymore actually bursting’ in the commentary.
So there are plenty of interesting questions for Gareth Southgate’s England team to answer in tonight’s friendly against Br….just kidding. Big one tonight. Biiiiiiiiiig one. Like most games with this much riding on them we can’t promise that Ireland v Denmark will be a classic. In fact if the first leg is anything to go by it will be a big old steaming pile of whatsit. But boy is this a big one. Ireland can qualify for their first World Cup since 2002, and you wouldn’t bet huge sums against them, would you?
Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by Alex Chick, always there and ready on the big occasion.