Football: Defeat Brings out the Knives for Donadoni

Article excerpt

Italian football is often as opaque as a muddy pool and Demetrio Albertini's verdict on his erstwhile teammate, Roberto Donadoni, fitted that image. "I've spoken with commissioner [Guido] Rossi and we're not even at the point where we need to repeat that we have faith [inDonadoni]," he said yesterday, in the aftermath of Italy's defeat by France in their World Cup final rematch here on Wednesday night. "There's not even a problem. We have to let him work with serenity."

There obviously is a problem with Italy's new coach or Albertini, now the football federation's vice-commissioner, would not have addressed it. The problem is that the world champions have played three matches since Donadoni took over from Marcello Lippi. Two have been lost, including the 3-1 defeat on Wednesday, and one drawn. With one point in two European Championship qualifiers they are five adrift of France and Scotland in Group B.

One newspaper, La Nazione, headed an editorial calling for Donadoni's exit with "How to reduce Lippi's masterwork to pieces in just three weeks". The response of Donadoni, 43 on Saturday and with limited coaching experience, did little to dispel unease in the peninsula. He announced that he would recall Francesco Totti for the two October qualifiers. …