Now is the time for the SFA to make the national post an Italian Job, says former Rangers star Lorenzo Amoruso

Former Italy boss Cesare Prandelli (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Former Italy boss Cesare Prandelli (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

LORENZO AMORUSO laughs, but only a little, as he says he has an alternative Italian option to offer Scotland if they miss out on Cesare Prandelli for manager – himself!

Prandelli, who spent four years in charge of Italy and led them all the way to the Euro 2012 Final, is keen on the idea of replacing Gordon Strachan.

Put up against leading contenders such as Davie Moyes, Paul Lambert and Michael O’Neill, he would be very much a left-field choice.

However, with the last two English Premier League titles having been won by his countrymen, Antonio Conte with Chelsea last season and, in 2015-16, Claudio Ranieri’s “miracle” with Leicester City, it would certainly be on trend.

Provided, that is, he is available at all.

The 60-year-old is currently managing United Arab Emirates club Al Nasr in the Gulf League.

And their executive director, Hamad Al Falasi, has been quoted as stating Prandelli is going nowhere, because they have him tied to a contract for the next 19 months.

Amoruso, the biggest Italian success story in Scotland having won nine trophies from his six years with Rangers, doesn’t know about that.

What he is sure of is that Prandelli would be capable of doing a good job.

“This is a trainer with great international experience we are speaking about,” said Amoruso.

“Cesare has coached Roma and Fiorentina, two of our largest clubs, as well as Valencia in Spain.

“More importantly, he has already been in charge of Italy, so he knows how to handle a national team.

“It is my opinion that now could be the time for Scotland to think about appointing a foreign coach.

“I should stress here, I say that as someone who was really surprised and sorry that Gordon Strachan is no longer in the post.

“For me, he is a good coach who did an excellent job for the country.

“Scotland under his charge had a clear style of play, a style which is full of energy and favours attack.

“I watched their games and I really felt it was bearing fruit.

“Against Slovenia they were ahead at half-time and looking comfortable to qualify for a place in the play-offs.

“Also, had they managed to see out the final few seconds against England in Glasgow and properly defend the Harry Kane goal, we would today be speaking about a historic qualification.

“Unfortunately, it was not to be and there will be no Scotland supporters to help make the party at the World Cup in 2018, which is a shame.

“I have heard he was criticised for saying genetics is a problem in Scotland compared to other nations.

“I think it was misunderstood. I think he was referring to a generational change that has not yet been completed.

“I’ll explain. Scotland, like England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, has always focused heavily on the physical side of the game.

“They do not usually have players of great technical qualities as it may be for Brazil, Argentina and the other South Americans.

“Here, in my opinion, Scotland is improving its technical skills, but at the same time have lost a lot on the physical ones.

“So there is still a deficit to fill.

“In modern football the physique and power of footballers is paramount. Unless you are Barcelona, who are phenomenal and the exception to the rule, though Suarez, for example, is a brilliant athlete.

“However, the teams that win the championships and those who raise the cups are always formed by players with great physical attributes.

“I remember Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan who won the Coppa Italia, the Scudetto (Italian league title) and Champions League in one season. They were all giants with big muscles.”

Former Rangers captain Lorenzo Amoruso (SNS Group)

Scotland’s Performance Schools, with their emphasis on diet, living right and sports science, are working to address the height issue with the emergence of young central defenders – for so long a problem position – such as Jack Hendry of Dundee and Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna providing cause for optimism.

Could they be the men to help Scotland end the long wait for a place in a major Finals by helping clinch qualification for Euro 2020?

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan admits the possibility the national team will play two home games at Hampden Park is a powerful source of motivation as he grapples with the question of who best to lead them.

“I do think someone from another country might be the answer and, yes, why not an Italian,” said Amoruso.

“Our coaches are really prepared. In Italy, the study of tactics is almost an obsession.

“Nothing is left to chance. I myself did a course at Coverciano – where generations of the greatest Italian coaches have gone to learn their trade – to get a coaching badge, so I understand fully how much work there is behind the preparation of our managers.

“I am talking about hours and hours of theoretical lessons and videos analysed frame by frame.

“At its most extreme it can be mad. Sitting watching a game being broken down by an Italian coach can take up to FIVE hours.

“The video is stopped to analyse movements with and without the ball, diagonals, and overlays.”

As dedicated a group of young sportsmen as might be the national team, it is hard to see any footballer relishing a five-hour breakdown of match action without getting a ball to kick.

Happily, the former Rangers defender believes the job of being an international manager is essentially straightforward.

“For a national team, I think the key is to be a good selector of players because at this level you do not have to coach.

“Rather, you just have to figure out who is best suited to cover a certain role, and implement a system and style that will best suit the players you want to use.

“Standing in the field every day, living in the dressing room, understanding the guys on, and off, the field is a job for someone with football in his heart and soul.

“For these reasons, I’d like to train a club, one day maybe Scottish!

“And the national team? If they were calling me I could not say no!

“How could you refuse a fascinating opportunity of leading a nation with such a rich history?

“I love Scotland, the land, the people, the fans.

“Of course, I should study a lot because, honestly, it is not easy for a stranger to know every player in another country.

“But nowadays with videos and technology this is an obstacle that could be easily overcome.

“Then there would be time to get the group ready and be as best prepared as they can be for the upcoming qualifications for the European Championship.

“I’m convinced that with the right man in charge, Scotland can do it next time. If they call me I will be there.”