This is one of those occasional guest posts from outsiders, in this case resulting from a collaboration with Superserp.com. It started out as a “will Giaccherini make the squad?” piece but that idea was scuppered by the announcement from Italy that made clear he had not made it. But was Cesare Prandelli right to overlook him – and, for that matter, was Poyet right to make so little use of him? …
As one of the most prestigious nations in World Cup history, Italy will arrive at Brazil 2014 with high expectation that their current generation of players can make their country proud and go all the way to the final.
They may not be considered among the strong favourites to triumph this summer, but Italy will certainly pose a danger to any team they face if they play to their strengths and have Mario Balotelli firing on all cylinders. The highly talented and temperamental AC Milan star has the quality to win games on his own.
But he will not be joined by Emanuele Giaccherini, the Sunderland winger having been omitted from Cesare Prandelli’s squad for the 2014 World Cup.
Backing Italy at the World Cup may result in a nice profit as their 20/1 odds rank the Azzuri amongst the dark horses to equal Brazil’s record of five World Cup titles, but Giaccherini will not play a part.
First season on Wearside
The £8 million signing of Emanuele Giaccherini was valued as somewhat of a coup for Sunderland who had acquired an excellent Italy international rated as an important player for Juventus.
The Serie A champions chose to sell Giaccherini in order to raise funds, with Sunderland immediately jumping in to seal a deal which showed real signs of promise that the club were heading in the right direction under Paolo Di Canio.
Scoring in his second game for the club in a 1-1 draw at Southampton was a perfect start to Giaccherini’s career in the Premier League as he hit top form, but the acrimonious departure of Di Canio had a negative effect on the Italian international – and the entire club.
Sunderland went into freefall amid controversial management, erratic outbursts and criticism of his own players from Di Canio who went from the hero of saving the club from relegation last season to a pantomime villain. It did not prevent Giaccherini from remaining an important player for Italy, with the diminutive winger firmly in Prandelli’s plans through the remaining World Cup qualifiers and subsequent friendlies against Germany, Nigeria and Spain.
The appointment of Gus Poyet reignited the fire and passion with Giaccherini instrumental in Sunderland’s wonderful run to the Capital One Cup Final where they lost to Manchester City despite a gallant effort.
Giaccherini saved his best for last in the league, setting up both of Connor Wickham’s goals in a shock, yet crucial, 2-2 draw at Manchester City and being among the scorers in a 4-0 win over relegation rivals Cardiff which pushed Sunderland out of the relegation zone. It symbolised a remarkable turnaround for Sunderland who looked dead and buried for the majority of the season, yet hit superb form at the right time to enjoy the great escape.
Being excluded from the 2014 World Cup came as a disappointment to Giaccherini who had shown enough quality in the final stages of the Premier League season to merit a place in Italy’s 23-man squad.
Giaccherini has already stated that he will remain at Sunderland despite his omission, although being part of a team that fought with relegation for the entire season may have counted against him when Cesare Prandelli formulated his squad. Starting just 16 Premier League games would indicate that Giaccherini was not valued as a regular starter on Wearside, although his qualities should have been utilised more in an area where Sunderland lacked real creative quality, up until when he came back into the team. The outstanding form of Antonio Candreva and Alessio Cerci made a stronger case for their inclusion in the Italy squad ahead of Giaccherini, with Prandelli also blessed with top quality full-backs who would get ahead of the Sunderland star at Brazil 2014.
Giaccherini would be forgiven for wanting to play at the World Cup to forget about the considerable turbulence he endured during his first season in England, although he will have to do with supporting the Azzuri from home.
Versatility has remained Giaccherini’s greatest strength, with Prandelli utilising the Sunderland star’s ability to play as a wing-back or as a winger on either side of the pitch. Despite his relatively small size and stature, Giaccherini offers pace and dribbling that was prominent during Euro 2012 and the 2013 Confederations Cup. His inclusion would have provided Italy with a unique attacking threat, with the small, tricky winger showing his quality through a starring role against Nigeria last November in which he got on the score sheet.
His omission from the Italy squad may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as it will allow Giaccherini to remain on Wearside to prepare for, what will hopefully be, at much better season for Sunderland.