Italy coach Roberto Donadoni fended off a barrage of criticism in a heated news conference Tuesday, a day after the World Cup champions were routed 3-0 by the Netherlands.
Donadoni was grilled on everything from his lineup choices to his non-dramatic tone of voice in interviews immediately after the game.
"The only certainty is that we lost last night. And the only thing we can do now is try to straighten things out for the next game," Donadoni said.
He was also asked to reply to a front-page headline Tuesday in the Turin daily Tuttosport that read "Give us back Lippi." Donadoni was hired when Marcello Lippi resigned after leading Italy to the World Cup title two years ago in Germany.
"Honestly, that was something I expected," Donadoni said. "We're not in Germany anymore. We're in Austria and Switzerland."
The Azzurri hadn't been beaten this bad since falling 3-0 to Sweden in Naples 25 years ago in European Championship qualifying. In the tournament proper, it was Italy's worst result ever, surpassing a 2-0 defeat to the Soviet Union in the 1988 semifinals.
Italy's biggest problem was containing the Dutch counterattack.
"We didn't understand how the plays were developing and we were slow to react," Donadoni said. "We've got to work on allowing fewer goals, from the offense on down to the defense."
When the criticism got to a personal level, attacking Donadoni's inability to raise his voice, the coach blurted out, "Oh Mamma Mia!"
Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete and vice president Demetrio Albertini, who is Donadoni's old AC Milan teammate and who was responsible for hiring him, flanked Donadoni in the crowded room at Casa Azzurri.
"We qualified after starting with a draw and a loss and we recovered to qualify," Abete said. "Hopefully we can do the same thing in the final phase of the tournament."
After acknowledging that the game marked "a sad, bitter page in our history," Abete added that Donadoni has the federation's "maximum support."
However, there is an escape clause in Donadoni's recent two-year contract extension that could open the way for him to be fired if Italy does not reach the semifinals.
The last time Italy lost its opening match at a major football competition was a 1-0 defeat to Ireland at the 1994 World Cup. The Azzurri recovered and made it to the final, losing to Brazil on penalties.
Italy's next Group C match is against Romania on Friday, followed by a rematch of the World Cup final with France four days later.