When the last Euros were held there was a buzz around Italy. We watched with interest because we knew a big character was coming to the Premier League.
It was all about Antonio Conte. He had agreed to become Chelsea’s manager before the tournament and we loved seeing his passion on the sidelines. His team played good football, he looked the part and his past record indicated he would be successful in our game.
When I watch Italy’s games at this Euros, I wonder why there is not the same buzz around their current manager and why Premier League clubs have not been doing all they can to recruit him.
We are watching one of the world’s best managers in Robert Mancini at this year’s Euros
I suspect some people will accuse me of bias when I talk about Roberto Mancini but my relationship with him has got nothing to do with my views. You are watching one of the world’s best managers in his prime and it baffles me why, for instance, Tottenham and Everton have not targeted him.
What separates the great managers from the good is the ability to improve a player. I remember Mancini coming into Manchester City and, by rights, he and I shouldn’t have seen eye to eye as we are completely different characters, but, almost immediately, it worked.
To play for him you have to understand his attention to detail. You have to do it as he wants because if you don’t, you won’t play. He is relentless, he challenges you mentally and a few people in our squad felt like they were being taken back to school by his methods.
Mancini changed everything at City. Training was moved to late afternoon, the way we ate at the canteen was different. He would walk around inspecting what people had on their plates, and, as someone who always ate salads, used to preach the importance of a good diet.
It baffles me why Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy (right) and Everton’s owner Farhad Moshiri (left) have not targeted him as their new boss
When I watch Italy’s games at this Euros, I wonder why there is not a buzz around Mancini
He would not get involved in what you were doing outside of work but could never understand why so many people liked to have a beer. The idea of drinking like that was alien to him and you only have to see how he looks now, at 56, to appreciate how seriously he took it all.
You would see him in the gym doing sessions. He had his road bike, he would go out running. There was an ‘abs’ workout he used to do and he wasn’t afraid to do a bit of boxing training either. The only person I know who is older and in better shape is Graeme Souness, who at 68 looks a million dollars!
The desire to look impeccable mirrors Mancini’s desire for his teams to be unbeatable. If you commit to Mancini’s way and show him loyalty, he will always be there for you. He never forgets those who help him and you can see that in the make-up of Italy’s coaching staff.
It is a history lesson for me to see him standing alongside Gianluca Vialli, his old striking partner. Mancini let us all know that he was a top player in his prime — ‘where is your technique?’ he would ask you with a smile on his face — but never made himself untouchable.
When Mancini arrived at City, by rights, I shouldn’t have seen eye to eye as we are completely different characters, but, almost immediately, it worked
When I had trouble with my knee, I had to go to Italy to see a specialist. With some managers, when you are injured you are out of sight and out of mind but Mancini rang me when I was over there. ‘Are you OK? Is there anything you need? If you need me, I will fly over,’ he said. It was a gesture I have never forgotten.
Put that to one side, though, and look at his record. He won the Italian Cup with Fiorentina and Lazio, took Inter Milan to Serie A three times, and he won the Turkish Cup with Galatasaray. And I haven’t even mentioned what he did for City.
He went head to head with Sir Alex Ferguson and won. Mancini made us believe that we could climb the mountain and laid the foundations for the success you are seeing the club enjoy now. Like all the top managers, he is always tactically ahead of the game and will relish this chance with Italy.
If England cannot win the tournament, my heart is with Italy. I will be watching the game against Austria tonight and hoping Mancini can take another major step forward.
Mancini changed everything at City and was a success – he took on Sir Alex Ferguson and won
What he has done over the last few years, to lift the fortunes of a team who had failed to qualify for the last World Cup without a superstar, has been incredible. It has proved, once again, why he belongs in the highest bracket. I don’t understand why Premier League clubs don’t see it the same way.
Do we respect his achievements? I’m not sure we do, but having worked with him, I can tell you he is absolutely outstanding. He is the reason Italy look like potential tournament winners once more.
Micah’s moment of the tournament…
So much has happened in the last fortnight but my mind keeps racing back to the first Asia Despatch broadcast I was involved in. Denmark v Finland was a game I will never forget, a moment for which there was no possible preparation.
Football became irrelevant the moment Christian Eriksen collapsed and the only words I could find when we came on air after he had received treatment was that ‘nothing else matters’.
Thank God, he pulled through, thank God Denmark’s medical team reacted so wonderfully. The fans, chanting his name at the stadium, all praying for his recovery, is something that will live long in my memory.
Hearing Christian was conscious was my moment of the tournament. With that in mind, many neutrals will hope to see Denmark get through to the last 16 by beating Wales, though I have to say, I’ve been cheering on the home nations and am so looking forward to the knockout stages.
Hearing Christian Eriksen was conscious after his cardiac arrest was my moment of the Euros
Come on England, it’s time we chucked our beers in the air!
It is fair to say that England’s start to the tournament has been positive without being overly exciting.
There is usually a point in the championship when you will see a ‘throw your beer’ moment — footage from around the country of the celebrations that follow an important goal — but, so far, it has all been relatively sedate.
We certainly could have played more flowing football against the Czech Republic. Jack Grealish played well while Bukayo Saka impressed and was rightly man of the match — but there has yet to be a performance from a player — or from the team — that has really captured the imagination.
I’ve got faith in England but I want to see us really impose ourselves on teams in the knockout stages.
I’ve got faith in England but I want to see us impose ourselves on teams in the knockout stages
Harry Kane is world class, let’s give him the service to showcase his talents. Plenty of other nations would pay fortunes to have him, so show them why they are envious of us!
At the minute, I cannot stand here and say we are playing a style to play a top team off the park but that is not to say it will not happen.
I just want more from England. They need to produce it on Tuesday to keep this adventure going.