Padraig Whelan Date: 20th November 2018 at 11:11pm
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In the wake of Italy’s final game of 2018 in which they eked out a 1-0 win over USA thanks to a last gasp Matteo Politano strike, Roberto Mancini claimed that the side are narrowly ahead of his schedule.

The former Zenit boss took the reins in May from interim boss Luigi Di Biagio, who replaced Giampiero Ventura who failed to qualify for the World Cup, and as now presided over nine games in his nine months, including the friendly win over the United States.

However, during that time, he has won just three of his games in charge (with two of those coming in friendlies) and scored just eight goals in the process, although he doesn’t see too much cause for despondency.

“We are in line with our expectations, maybe even a little further ahead of them. The team are playing well and that’s what is important for us,” he told Rai Sport.

“Next up, we will take part in qualifying. We have to try and simply win as many games as we can. We have had some draws and two defeats against the world and European champions but we know that we have to win.”

That said, Mancini did admit that the performance of the side against the USA, despite dominating the game and creating plenty of opportunities, was a disappointing one.

“It was a displeasing night, especially for the players and all of the Italians who were here. What was I thinking before Politano’s goal? That it would have been 0-0!” Mancini added.

“Football is like that. There’s not a lot you can do when you create chances but don’t take them. But I’m happy with the players overall and it was good to get a win.”