Italy have followed France’s lead by offering the job of national team boss to one of the country’s successful club managers before the start of the 2010 World Cup.
Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli was approached by the Italian Football Federation after current Italy gaffer Marcello Lippi indicated he would step down following the tournament.
The 52-year-old Prandelli, who is Serie A’s longest-serving coach having been at Fiorentina since 2005, has managed to turn La Viola from a team threatened by relegation to one capable of reaching the Champions League knockout stage.
With Bordeaux gaffer Laurent Blanc already secured as the next France manager, and Italian Federation president Giancarlo Abete keen to finalise the country’s boss before the team flies out to South Africa on June 8th, it seems the perceived wisdom is to get such matters sorted early. But precedent doesn’t necessarily agree.
After leading Portugal to a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic at the European championships two years ago, Luiz Felipe Scolari announced that he would be stepping down as the country’s manager to take up the top job at Chelsea once the tournament was over.
Portugal promptly lost their final group game 2-0 to hosts Switzerland and then bowed out of the competition at the quarter-final stage following a below-par display in a 3-2 defeat by eventual runners-up Germany.
Despite Scolari’s refusal to make any connection between his announcement and Portugal’s early exit, many observers suggested the squad was distracted, and, by his own admission, the Portugal players failed to adhere to his instructions for defending set pieces against the Germans.
The England team found themselves in similar circumstances two years earlier at the 2006 World Cup after the FA announced in January of that year that Sven Goran Eriksson would be leaving at the culmination of the competition. A well-fancied England never really looked fluent in progressing to the quarters before being knocked out, ironically, by Scolari’s Portugal.
It is customary for international managers to use major tournaments as timely points at which to leave their posts, but maybe the actual details should be left until all the matches are done and dusted, less the turbulence overshadows on-field action yet to take place.