Prandelli points finger at Balotelli after falling on his sword
Published 25/06/2014 | 02:30
Cesare Prandelli opened the door for Roberto Mancini to become Italy coach by resigning from his position following Italy's humiliating World Cup exit.
Italy 0 Uruguay 1
Prandelli, who only recently signed an extension to his contract to keep him in charge until Euro 2016, announced his decision immediately after the Italians' defeat against Uruguay in Natal, which secured progression for the South American champions. He said his decision to pick striker Mario Balotelli was at the root of his demise.
"Picking Balotelli was my mistake," Prandelli said. He added: "I talked to the president of the federation and Demetrio Albertini and gave my resignation. I don't want anyone to say I am robbing the Italian tax payers, that is why I am going away. I take responsibility for this project."
Despite the Italian Federation immediately urging Prandelli to reconsider, the former Fiorentina coach appeared determined to walk away from the post after four years in charge, after seeing Diego Godin's 81st-minute header seal a hard-fought game in Group D.
The president of the federation, Giancarlo Abete, also resigned last night. Prandelli's departure is likely to see former Manchester City manager Mancini emerge as front-runner for the position, with many in Italy regarding his pre-tournament departure from Galatasaray as significant.
Italy may be spared the rotten tomatoes when they return from Brazil, eliminated from the World Cup at the group stage for the second successive tournament, with Prandelli shouldering the blame for the Azzurri's failure to qualify from their group.
Luis Suarez's status as villain will also be secure after he went unpunished for appearing to bite Giorgio Chiellini in the closing stages of the game.
But having been lauded in the wake of the victory against England in Manaus, with Andrea Pirlo and Balotelli combining to secure a 2-1 win, the Italians go home after successive defeats against Costa Rica and now Uruguay.
With Uruguay's goal difference inferior to that of the Italians, they knew that only a victory would be enough to secure qualification to the knock-out stages. But the Italians favoured defensive tactics, inviting the Uruguayans to attack, and the negative approach ultimately proved their undoing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)