Football: Italy prefers Italians

THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS
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As John Major continues to do battle with his Euro-sceptics, it might seem that xenophobia is a peculiarly British characteristic.

However, in the narrower field of appointing football coaches, it is the British who are beginning to look enlightened compared with some Europeans, most notably the Italians. While Premiership clubs begin to widen their horizons, Italian clubs are looking increasingly towards their own.

Roma's Argentine coach Carlos Bianchi last week became the fifth foreign coach to leave a Serie A club this season. Another soon to be on his way is Blackburn's manager-elect, Roy Hodgson, with whom Bianchi expressed particular sympathy.

"They have different standards for different people," Bianchi said. "Carlo Ancelotti is lauded for his success with a Parma side that has been successful for a number of seasons and contains eight international players."

Hodgson is accused by his critics of being a failure at Internazionale even though they have one foot in the Uefa Cup final, are third in the league and were knocked out of the Italian Cup only in a semi-final penalty shoot-out.

Hodgson has been dismayed by criticism from fans and seems to blame the Italian press. "I have to ask myself what has happened among our fans," he said. "We are going well in two competitions and yet they want to whistle and jeer.

"But I don't need to read the papers to know whether or not my work is going well. What I do know is that in Italy you need only to lose two games to have years of good work demolished."

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