By Alessandra Cardone
ROME, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The day after a premature exit from the World Cup, Italians reacted to the stinging disappointment by wondering about what lies in the Azzurri's future and, most of all, who would sIt on the chair just vacated by coach Cesare Prandelli.
All major media and sport web sites scrutinised the people's mood on Wednesday, launching online opinion polls, and Italians were encouraged to have their say. Considering first reactions, readers seemed to favour former Inter and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, and former Zenit St. Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti among several other names.
A lot of time and endless comments were indeed dedicated to the matter, as if Italy was trying to find a 'positive' way to overcome the frustration for a team's performance regarded quite unanimously as very poor.
The names submitted as most eligible successors of Prandelli were more or less the same in all media: the already cited Mancini and Spalletti; ex AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri; ex England team boss Fabio Capello; current Japan team coach Alberto Zaccheroni; retired Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin.
Some media web sites added a generic 'foreign coach' to the list.
The question seemed to drive Italians into frenzy for a while. By late Wednesday afternoon, in less than 10 hours, more than 34,000 readers had taken part in the online survey of leading Corriere della Sera daily. Here Mancini and Capello were in 'pole position' with 27.9 percent and 22.6 percent respectively.
Some 8,000 people gave their opinion to La Repubblica newspaper website, and again Mancini and Spalletti were leading the preferences with around 40 percent and 37 percent.
On the Turin-based La Stampa newspaper, the survey gathered around 3,100 participants and preferences were more equally divided between Mancini, Capello, and Spalletti.
The same happened with Italy's two main sport newspapers, La Gazzetta dello Sport and Il Corriere dello Sport. Several thousand readers were ready to have their say, with Spalletti, Mancini, and Capello variously regarded as most fit for Prandelli's job.
Yet, since football in Italy is indeed felt as a serious 'business' and many had nourished the dream of a fifth World Cup, both experts and people on the streets could not help brooding over what went wrong in Brazil.
Therefore, Italian readers were also asked to wonder 'who was to blame for the defeat'. Opinion polls could be played even more comfortably on this point, as public opinion is used to splitting over football-related controversies very easily.
Some outlets gave a wide range of options to choose among: was Italy's striker Mario Balotelli to blame? Was Prandelli or Italian Federation president Giancarlo Abete? The whole team together? The referee? The extreme temperatures?
Others preferred to focus this 'blame game' on Balotelli, who came indeed under heavy criticism and much popular taunt on social networks for the way he played against Costa Rica and Uruguay.
After the talented footballer rejected public disapproval by writing "I did my best, find another culprit", for example, the Corriere della Sera's survey asked directly: Do you stand up for Balotelli or his detractors?
Thus, pondering over 'technical' issues helped common Italians to mourn over a mortifying loss and accept their football team was to return home much 'too soon'.