Following Italy's shock exit from the FIFA World Cup play-offs against North Macedonia on Thursday, Roberto Mancini's future has been sprung up in the air, and there are already plenty of reports suggesting a possible replacement.
Italy in recent seasons have been a headache of a team to watch, going from the heights of the UEFA Euro 2020 win and the stunning run in the 2012 edition as well, to failing to qualify for the last two World Cups, and getting knocked out from the group stages in the previous two that they actually competed in.
That means Italy's last World Cup game was in 2014, 2839 days ago, and their last World Cup knockout game was way back when they won the 2006 edition, 5737 days ago (based on the date of their elimination from the play-offs).
As a result, Mancini's future as head coach of Italy is in serious doubt, despite FIGC President Gabriele Gravina stating that he wouldn't sack Mancini.
It is now solely on Mancini himself to decide his future, especially since he extended his contract with the Azzurri right before the successful Euros campaign last summer, keeping him in the role until 2026.
According to a report from La Gazzetta dello Sport, 2006 World Cup captain Fabio Cannavaro has already emerged as the leading candidate to replace Mancini should the latter resign.
Cannavaro started his coaching career in China with Guangzhou FC, but he rescinded his contract last September and has now returned to Europe, where he held talks with multiple sides, including Everton, Watford and the Polish Federation over recent months.
The report also claims that former Italy coach Marcello Lippi could be set to join Cannavaro as the team's technical director.
Speaking after the exit, Mancini claimed "Just as the Euros was the most wonderful experience of my life, this was the biggest disappointment. We can say nothing, that is football, sometimes incredible things happen and it happened."
"We shouldn't have been here in the first place, but we did everything we could to win and it's hard to even talk about it."
He added that "The victory at the Euros was absolutely deserved, we played great football. Then some of the fortune we had in that tournament turned into total and complete bad luck, as some unbelievable things happened from September onwards."
Mancini stated that he has a group of 'fine players' and that he feels 'sorry for them'.
When asked whether he will continue his role as Italy coach, he responded by saying "We will see. I think everyone is too disappointed right now to talk about the future."
Whether Mancini will end up leaving his role or not remains to be seen, but his insistence to play certain players has been criticised in the past, especially Ciro Immobile, who has been unable to replicate his scintillating Lazio form with the national side for his whole international career, and many felt that the likes of Sandro Tonali and Giacomo Raspadori should have started on Thursday.
However, the Italian national team is clearly in transition, shifting off plenty of their more experienced players as they make way for the younger generation, and while they have struggled to qualify for the World Cup recently, Mancini's development of younger players cannot be ignored, and it definitely would be a strange decision for him to be relieved of his duties.
Mancini has highlighted on numerous occasions how this squad of players has a 'bright future' and that he has an 'immense' affection for them, especially during such a tough period.