Gianfranco Zola: Italy need to replace Giampiero Ventura as manager

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Former Italy international Gianfranco Zola says it is necessary for his country to replace boss Giampiero Ventura.

Ventura is fighting for his job after the Azzurri failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years following a play-off defeat to Sweden.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio has called a meeting to discuss the country’s failure to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia and the 69-year-old’s position will come under scrutiny.

Zola, who 35 caps between 1991 and 1997, says Ventura’s time should be up.

“It will be necessary (for him to go), because it’s not going to be easy for him to continue with his work,” Zola told Sky Sports News.

“It’s a pity because he’s a good coach, he really gets his teams playing good football but in this case, unfortunately as a national team coach, you cannot get the amount of time that is necessary to develop his football.

“It would be wrong to put all the pressure on the coach, all football in Italy needs to be regenerated and we need solutions to improve it.

“There are certainly men with very good credentials. We have to start restructuring our youth system and we need to improve the quality of players that we are producing, at the moment we are not producing a lot of quality and a country like Italy, which has always been known for producing players, it is a pity to see that.”

Gianluigi Buffon was one of several star names to call time on their international careers, bringing the curtain down on his 175-cap stint after Monday’s goalless draw with Sweden in Milan, which saw them lose their qualifying play-off 1-0 and meant that the four-time world champions would be absent from next year’s finals.

Zola said of the goalkeeper: “He has been an icon, he has been an absolutely fantastic ambassador for the whole country.

“It is sad to see such a player in tears like he was, that’s the nature of the game.

“Football has given him so much satisfaction, unfortunately this time, right at the end, he had the disappointment and I felt sorry for him in the end.”

It is the first time since 1958 that an Italian team has not qualified for a World Cup and the fallout has reverberated around the game, with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport hailing the arrival of the ”apocalypse”.

The 69-year-old Ventura, who is under contract until 2020, apologised after the match, but stopped short of resigning.

He said in a post-match press conference which he arrived at well over an hour after full-time: “At this moment I can only apologise to the Italians, not for the will or effort but for the result which as I know is the main thing.

“I arrived late (for the press conference) because I wanted to say goodbye to the players one by one. Have I resigned? No, because I haven’t even spoken with the (Italian Football Federation) president.

“There’s an infinite number of things to evaluate, we’ll speak with the Federation, we’ll evaluate the situation.”