Azzurri set to pay Lip service again

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Italy doesn’t like to experiment and when it does it invariably goes wrong so it is no surprise that Marcello Lippi will be back leading the Azzurri in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Italian football federation never really believed in Roberto Donadoni and in truth the mere youngster, at just 44, did himself no favours at Euro 2008 by showing his lack of leadership at crucial moments

Time has run out for Donadoni

Better to stick with someone who knows what they are doing and, of course, the man who led the country to their greatest glory in over two decades, proving at the same time that Italian teams could play in the opponent’s half of the pitch.

The 60-year-old Lippi has spent the two years since winning the 2006 tournament rightly basking in the glory and half-heartedly telling everyone that he was waiting for the right moment, club, opportunity to come along.

In between sailing his yacht around the Med and appearing as a pundit on Sky Italia’s Champions League coverage, that right offer did appear.

As we revealed in a previous blog, AC Milan had the cigar-chomping Paul Newman lookalike signed and sealed to replace Carlo Ancelotti for next season.

Gianluca Zambrotta was persuaded to return from Barcelona and even the thought of playing in the UEFA Cup was no deterrent if the great maestro was in charge.

However, Rossoneri vice-president Adriano Galliani got cold feet after consultation with the players, who weren’t too keen on the arrival of the former Juve man with a few axes to grind with the likes of ex-charges Filippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf.

Ancelotti wasn’t too happy either and stomped off to speak to Chelsea but in the end the ‘Milan family’ kissed and made up, leaving Lippi in limbo once again.

There were apparently offers from Manchester City and German side Wolfsburg but when you are a World Champion that’s not really going to rock your boat.

Lippi: Back at the helm

So, we are back where we started again. The Federation first stalled on a new deal for Donadoni and then inserted a 10 day get-out clause if the team failed to reach the semi-finals.

However, according to one source, only lifting the trophy would have saved the Don so desperate were the big-wigs for a bit of charisma, respect and a few good sound-bites which of course Lippi offers in abundance.

All that remains now is for the announcement to be made, probably by the end of the week or early next at the latest. Then everyone can head off on holiday confident that over the next 18 months the likes of Ireland and Bulgaria will offer little resistance now the ‘Mister’ is back.