Man Utd managerial hunt could take new twist as Mancini option arises | Football | Sport

Italy’s hopes of playing at this year’s World Cup may well be in tatters, but their heartbreak could provide a significant boost to Manchester United as the club’s managerial hunt takes another compelling twist. The Azzurri failed to qualify for the Qatar showpiece as a last-gasp North Macedonia winner sent them crashing out of qualifying to leave Roberto Mancini’s future up in the air and the Red Devils waiting in the wings.

Despite Italy dominating the World Cup semi-final play-off, they were punished for their failure in front of goal as North Macedonia upset the odds in the most dramatic of fashion. With the contest goalless and extra-time looming in Palermo, Aleksandar Trajkovski picked up a loose ball in midfield, before promptly turning and firing in a stunning long-range winner.

A shell-shocked Mancini desperately tapped his watch amid the chaotic celebrations as the reality of Italy – the recently-crowned European champions – missing their second World Cup in a row hit home. Speaking after the match, the former Manchester City manager announced the defeat was the “biggest disappointment” of his career before admitting his future as his country’s national team boss is now unclear.

“Now it is too early to talk about the future, we still have to digest this defeat,” he declared. “On a human level, I can say that I love these lads more tonight than after the triumph in July. The disappointment is enormous.”

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