After World Cup failure, what now for Italy, U.S., Chile and Netherlands?
Several powerhouses won't be present when the World Cup begins. How are Italy, the U.S., Chile and Netherlands dealing with their failure to qualify and what happens next?
What is the biggest issue facing the national team?
The choice of manager to replace Giampiero Ventura. Unable to elect a new president, the FIGC is under the emergency supervision of CONI, Italy's Olympic Committee. Alessandro Costacurta has the job of picking the new coach -- and setting the agenda of reform -- with Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Mancini and Antonio Conte front-runners for the position. Gigi di Biagio is caretaker boss and will use upcoming friendlies vs. Argentina and England to make a case for the full-time job. The former Roma and Inter midfielder has worked exclusively within the FIGC and, were he appointed, it would revive a tradition of developing national team coaches from within. Three of Italy's four World Cups, plus their sole European Championship, were won by company men who hardly worked in the club game. -- James Horncastle
The single biggest issue facing the U.S. men's national team is who will be its next manager. Former assistant Dave Sarachan has been running the team on an interim basis ever since Bruce Arena resigned, but the team's future direction will largely depend on who is hired permanently. Will the yet-to-be-named USSF general manager go foreign or domestic? And will the new manager rips things up, stick with veterans, or find a middle ground? -- Jeff Carlisle
They have the same problem that has proved such an obstacle to other South American nations: How to replace a golden generation? Peru and Colombia -- post 1982 and 1998, respectively -- took time to get over it, while Paraguay -- post 2010 -- are still dealing with the fall out. Among others, Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel and Mauricio Isla came through the 2007 under-20 team and went on to form Chile's most successful group of all time, one which was the first to bring home silverware. -- Tim Vickery
Holland's style of play is outdated; while they do endless slow sideways passing, most opponents just hover, waiting to intercept a square ball in defense. Also, most players are physically weak and slow by modern standards. In short, the Dutch have stopped thinking about soccer. Encouraged by the father of their game, Johan Cruyff, who grew conservative in old age, they thought they had achieved perfection by the 1990s and could stop. The country's biggest coaching jobs remain reserved for members of soccer's old boys' club and foreign candidates are ignored. The counterattacking game of the past decade suited Arjen Robben, but now the 34-year-old has retired from the national team. -- Simon Kuper
Why will / won't things improve ahead of 2022?
Part of the frustration at Italy's World Cup failure comes from the fact that a talented generation of players is emerging. Goalkeeper Gigio Donnarumma is the highest profile, while Federico Chiesa has people excited. Meanwhile, the likes of Daniele Rugani, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Federico Bernardeschi, Andrea Conti, Mattia Caldara and Roberto Gagliardini have made or are about to make moves to Serie A's elite. Add Alessio Romagnoli and Marco Verratti and consider the potential of the under-20s, who reached the World Cup semifinals last year, and you have the makings of a talented side. As for issues to be resolved, up-and-coming players need regular playing time, while the primacy of the result over performance and tactics over skill must be addressed. Plus, reform is needed at the FIGC. -- Horncastle
There are reasons for optimism. A new crop of young players, including Schalke's Weston McKennie, Vitesse's Matt Miazga and the New York Red Bulls' Tyler Adams, are making good progress in their young careers and will be expected to take over from a group of players that showed its age to some degree during the recent World Cup qualifying failure. If the new faces are successful, then the lingering bitterness, which has surrounded the U.S. team since that night in Trinidad, will finally begin to dissipate. -- Carlisle
There will still be a role for the wise old heads, but the baton has to pass to a new generation and Chile's recent results in youth tournaments have not encouraged. This scenario helps explain the choice of Colombian Reinaldo Rueda as the new coach of the senior team. He took both Ecuador and Honduras to World Cups, but made his name as a youth specialist. As Chile build for 2022, Rueda's biggest task is to prepare youngsters to step into the boots of Sanchez, Vidal & Co. -- Vickery
Because they can hardly get worse: Holland has now missed two consecutive tournaments. Holland no longer has world-class players but can still field several respected starters at good clubs, such as Memphis Depay, Daley Blind, Kevin Strootman and Virgil van Dijk. Ronald Koeman isn't the world's most brilliant coach, but he understands the reality of modern top-class international soccer. Perhaps the country's biggest advantage: After four disastrous years, it knows it has to start thinking again. And if you need to steal ideas, the best place to begin is a short drive from world champions Germany to the east and resurgent Belgium to the south. -- Kuper
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