All hail Prandelli the romantic

March 21, 2013

Cesare Prandelli’s wonderfully adventurous coaching style makes the Azzurri impossible not to like. 

Prandelli

Life is good with Cesare Prandelli. That is the sense you get. Like Carlo Ancelotti, he carries the sense of enjoying life without compromises: of picking all the best bits, then later seeing how he can make it work. If Prandelli were a chef, he would throw the most exotic ingredients available into one pan, mix it all together, and somehow produce a coherent dish of magnificent taste. That, at least, is how he seems operates as a football coach.

Prandelli picks all the characters. He believes troublemakers can change, that the dangers of indiscipline can be avoided. His team selection at Euro 2012 was his ultimate show of romanticism: few coaches would field a duo of Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli when the chips are down. The potential problems were endless: they were too individualistic, they could not work together, they were lazy, inconsistent, unreliable, unpredictable. Ticking bombs. Yet Prandelli saw past that; he played them, and made it work. That takes an admirable amount of skill and courage.

The notion of romanticism seems to be permanent. Only this week, he said he was prepared to consider Francesco Totti for the World Cup squad – a man who will be 37 when the Azzurri board the plane to Brazil. For closer followers of Italian football, there are probably other brave decisions to mention. Prandelli appears to see the beauty of football: he appreciates the artists misunderstood by others, those who do not fit into pre-determined categories. And he is optimistic, confident and good enough to convert them into a functional collective.

Nobody knows what his final squad for the World Cup will look like. But by all accounts, Italy will make it, and Prandelli will be the man in charge. For the neutral, his side may prove a decent follow come 2014.

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Photo: Gianluca Gozzoli