Former AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi has spoken out about Italy’s loss to North Macedonia and believes that the blame should not be on Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini but rather the structural issues within Italian football clubs and academies.

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sacchi explained that Gianpiero Ventura was wrongfully blamed for Italy’s 2018 World Cup qualifying failure and that Mancini will be scapegoated for the 2022 failure. With Italy having missed out on their second consecutive World Cup, Sacchi explained that the cause goes deeper than the two coaches and their squads.

“We are reaping what we have sown. We talk a lot, but we don’t solve problems with words. We need a broader vision of the issue.

“Before it was the fault of Ventura, when we failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, now it will be Mancini’s fault: but if we continue to think in this way we will not get anywhere.”

“What happened in Palermo against Macedonia has been happening with club teams for twelve years. We have not won anything in Europe since 2010, after Mourinho’s Champions League with Inter.

Sacchi continued, “The national team at the European Championship was a wonderful exception to which we must all be grateful because he gave us a trophy won with merit and a good team.

“But it was an exception, in fact, and certainly not a rule. We continue to buy foreigners for our clubs, and the youth sectors are also full of young people who come from abroad: are we sure that this is the right way or, instead, is this not the real problem?”

“The rhythms of our championship are ridiculous. Try to watch an English, or Spanish, or German match. The players are much faster, they get used to the European level in their nations. Here the referees whistle too much, the actions are always interrupted,” he added.

“How do you play in this way? I’ll say it again: we are backward, and not only in football. I love football, and Italian football in particular, but we must be honest: there are no ideas. First of all: we have to teach children to play, in short, we don’t always go to entrust ourselves to the saviour of the homeland that maybe even comes from abroad.”

“It is a terrible blow, a knockout blow after which it is difficult to get up. But we have to try, and not look for a shortcut, which is our house speciality. Shortcuts and cunning, in all sectors and not only in football, have brought us to this point.”