Roberto Mancini admits he would "come running" if he was offered the chance to coach Italy. The 49-year-old has been out of work since leaving Galatasaray in June and remains among the leading candidates to replace Cesare Prandelli, who stepped down after La Nazionale's surprise first-round exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Massimiliano Allegri has since dropped out of contention by accepting the Juventus job, yet the man whose position he filled, Antonio Conte, is considered a very strong rival to Mancini for the Italy hot-seat. And while the former Manchester City manager is not worried about his competition for the post, he is still waiting for the phone to ring.
Mancini told Il Giorno: "It makes me very happy and proud to be in the thoughts of those who love the national team. I've always been patriotic, I never forget about Italy even when I've been working abroad.
"Who doesn't dream about coaching their national team? I'd come running. The reality, however, is that for now, no one has called me."
If he were to assume control of Italy, Mancini would retain the services of veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo. Both were World Cup winners in 2006 but endured a disappointing campaign in Brazil and could be tempted to retire from international football before UEFA EURO 2016.
"Even if they are 30-somethings, I would certainly still call on Pirlo and Buffon, because having world-class players is essential if you are going to win things," Mancini said.
Mancini had a fractious relationship with Mario Balotelli while the pair were working at Manchester City together, and he has warned the striker to "wake up" and start focusing on realising his undeniable talent.
"He's young, but time passes for everyone and does not wait for anyone, so he needs to wake up," Mancini stressed. "We are talking about the same player who dragged Italy through the EUROs two years ago. The World Cup went wrong and so there is a tendency to blame the players when things are not going well.
"Mario must understand, however, that his job is one that you dream about doing as a child and one for which you are paid handsomely. He has to do only one thing: respect the coach and help his team-mates to win."