Could Roberto Mancini replace Gian Piero Ventura as Italy head coach? The Zenit boss insisted he is happy in Russia.
Ventura, 69, was sacked by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
Former Manchester City and Inter tactician Mancini – who won the Premier League and Serie A having earned 36 international caps for Italy – has emerged as one of the candidates to fill the void, along with countrymen Carlo Ancelotti, Fabio Capello and Fabio Cannavaro.
However, the 52-year-old has no plans to leave Zenit, where he took charge in June.
“I am not surprised my name has been mentioned on the list, seeing as they also discussed colleagues with experience who won in various different countries,” Mancini told Match TV.
“But I am happy at Zenit and in St Petersburg, so I am not thinking about the Nazionale.
“My objective is to win the Russian league title.”
Mancini, whose Zenit are second in the Russian Premier League and three points adrift of Lokomotiv Moscow after 16 games, added: “Like many of my fellow countrymen, I dreamed of seeing Italy at the World Cup in Russia. Seeing them crash out gave me tremendous sadness.
“I was born after 1958, the last time our team failed to qualify for the World Cup, so I didn’t know what it meant to not be there. Now I can admit it feels surreal and extremely sad.”
On the 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden, who won the opening leg and held Italy goalless in Milan, Mancini said: “I thought the Nazionale was very unlucky, especially in the second leg when they wasted a lot of chances, but football is a very strange sport.
“There are days when it’s all going against you and you can’t do anything about it. This is why we won’t see Italy in Russia next summer.
“In all national teams, there has to be a generational shift at some point, and Italy are obviously at that moment, but I think they will soon get back to being leaders in the football world because there are a lot of talented youngsters coming through.”
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