Only three months into the job as Italy coach, Roberto Donadoni is struggling to get the World Cup champions to the Euro 2008 championship.
Unless the Azzurri turn things around soon, they could be headed for a repeat of their European flop the last time they won the world title in 1982.
After winning the World Cup in Spain, Enzo Bearzot's team failed to qualify for the 1984 Euros in France with only one victory in eight games.
With only one point from two Group B matches and five to make up on leaders Scotland and France, Donadoni's team is in similar trouble and has to respond with a victory over Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.
A newcomer to international coaching, Donadoni says he doesn't feel under pressure.
"I can guarantee you I don't feel isolated," said the former AC Milan midfielder. "I feel the players' desire. Unfortunately there's a tendency (in Italy) to make easy things difficult. There should be more respect. Criticism is part of our world. It's the insults that don't have any part in it."
The Italians, who won the World Cup under Marcello Lippi in Berlin three months ago, have taken a long time to recover. Francesco Totti is sitting out international play until he has fully healed from a leg injury, reports AP.
But Donadoni has nearly all the other World Cup stars available and reportedly will field an adventurous 4-3-3 formation against Ukraine in the Stadio Olimpico.
"I haven't decided anything yet. I'm going to think about it until the last minute," said Donadoni, who believes his team is improving despite last month's 3-1 loss to World Cup runner-up France. "Our condition is certainly better than a month ago."
Europe has recognised the need for negotiations with Russia to discuss the security system on the continent. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is going to Macedonia for meetings with colleagues within the OSCE