Paul Parker: He's no Ace Ventura, Italy boss should have some dignity and resign now
Giampiero Ventura should quit immediately after letting Italy down, writes Paul Parker...
After Italy were knocked out in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Cesare Prandelli fell on his sword. He did the honourable thing, he knew what football meant to his country. He walked away with dignity because he didn't achieve what he – or Italy – wanted.
At 69, Giampiero Ventura, who we could hardly call 'Ace' Ventura, can't sit and wait. He must admit he won't be the person who will take them into the Euros in 2020. The Italian fans will not be happy with it and their football association should listen to them and not be stubborn.
There are better managers out there – Carlo Ancelotti for example, and who is to say Antonio Conte won't go back to the job? He did very well with a poor team at the Euros. He made them into a side that made the most of what they had. When they beat Spain 2-0, you thought they might even be able to win it.
They have to do what the Germans did before their current period of sustained success and re-focus on the national team. Maybe the Italians might even go down a road they've been on before where they had an embargo on foreign players. It would be impossible to do this outright, but they might try and bring in restrictions.
Buffon is not Brazilian
As for Gianluigi Buffon, everyone feels for him, but I’m sure he knows there is no real sentiment in football. Everyone was hoping it would work out, it just didn’t happen.
But there is only one team that anyone would sorely miss in the World Cup, and that is Brazil. Not many people felt sorry for England when we didn’t qualify for the 1994 tournament. Perhaps FIFA weren’t happy because of the number of England fans that would have travelled to the U.S. – but when you speak to the other teams, did they want us there? Not really.
There are always surprises in football and Italy will have to go back to picking youth stars after this wake-up call.
You get out what you put in, and Italy simply didn’t put in enough. They had an opportunity which everyone thought they would take but Sweden have been rejuvenated since Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired and got themselves to Russia against the odds.
I know Scandinavian football in general has taken a bit of a nosedive, so when those groups were made up you never thought Sweden would qualify having to play France and the Netherlands. The top two were predictable as far as everyone was concerned.
But they surprised everyone, and now Italian football is suffering. There is only one outstanding club team at the moment – Juventus – but they faltered in the Champions League final as they didn’t perhaps have quite enough quality or depth compared with Real Madrid.
Parallels with Premier League
AC Milan have now got plenty of money, as do Inter, but they are spending, not investing it. Where Italians have always been strong is their young players coming through but now they are importing, which they stopped doing years ago to go and win the World Cup in 2006.
Now many of the biggest clubs are owned by foreigners, who are buying as big a name as possible and the managers are being given blank cheques. The managers might be looking at youth, but the owners are more interested in star names. It is killing one of the best football nations.
Without a doubt there is a parallel with the Premier League. You have to remember England only qualified because they were in a very easy group. Everyone knew they would qualify, it was about how they did it.
But they were not outstanding, it was more because of the quality of opposition that they were up against. It’s not ideal heading to Russia, as Gareth Southgate would be looking for some sort of momentum and, more importantly, good performances. Something to give belief that there might be something there for an improved display at a major tournament.
England would have struggled in that group as well, if they had replaced Italy. Could they remain unbeaten against Spain? There’d be no guarantees. And then to face Sweden in the play-offs is tough. England simply had the luck of the draw.