Mancini quits: but will Mourinho or Benitez step in?

Italy is a country that has little time to pick over the bones of the dead.

So, no sooner than Roberto Mancini had announced that he would be stepping down as Inter coach at the end of the season than his successor was already in place.

Very rarely do all three Italian daily sports newspapers agree, but La Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere dello Sport and Tuttosport all came up with the names of Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez as the front-runners to step into the hotseat.

La Gazzetta led with the headline: ‘Mancini: I'm out of here’ and then went on to hedge their bets by claiming that club president Massimo Moratti will turn to either of two men who have actually claimed the Holy Grail of the Champions League.

The smart money is on the Special One arriving in the summer though the Pink ‘Un stuck their necks out for once in their editorial and suggested that Moratti cut his losses and bring in the former Chelsea boss straightaway.

That sentiment was shared by Corriere dello Sport who suggested that the Nerazzurri owner should not wait for Mancini to see out his last two months and risk missing out on the Italian title as well.

Their take on the matter was that Mancini had left the club with no other option and Moratti had already expressed his desire to hire Mourinho by lauding the Portuguese during the club’s centenary celebrations at the start of the week.

Turin-based Tuttosport, of course, couldn’t wait to stick the knife in, splashing their front page with a gleeful ‘The party’s over’, above a photograph of a crestfallen Mancini who looked in need of a good holiday.

When they had stopped laughing, they even suggested that Manchester City would be the 43-year-old’s next destination so he could be closer to his son Filippo who is there on loan and work again with his mentor Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Meanwhile, the players were as taken aback as the rest of the country, with Julio Cruz feeling it was a ‘heat of the moment’ decision as did midfielder Estaban Cambiasso although the flops of the evening, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira, hardly batted an eyelid when confronted with the news as they left the stadium.

Rumours abound as to why Mancini decided to drop the bombshell, with suggestions that Moratti went into the dressing room after the game to berate the players and ignore the coach while Luis Figo reportedly refused to come on as a substitute in the latter stages of the contest.

Mancini made his statement in the official press conference to the printed press but Sky Sports Italy will have a chance to dig further when he appears live on their post Champions League round-up show on Thursday evening.

The whole of Italy will be tuning in and then we may get a clearer picture on the reasons to walk away from the biggest job in Italian football.