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Roberto Mancini insists Manchester City didn’t deserve to lose

Dec 9, 2012, 8:02 PM EDT

Manchester City manager Mancini walks onto pitch before their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester United in Manchester Reuters

“We didn’t deserve to lose this game.”

Cosmically, perhaps none of us deserve to lose games. That carries the implication there’s something inherently wrong with some of us, a thought too morose to leverage in a post-match interview. In turn, perhaps nobody deserves to win games either, so if Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini’s thesis is that the existential irrelevance of soccer games means all matches should end in draws, I’m down with that.

What I’m less “down with” is managers (typically losing ones) insisting the result is somehow undeserved or unfair. Whether it’s true or not, it’s lost all meaning.

So Roberto Mancini thinks his team didn’t deserve to lose. While I empathize, my first reaction is to wonder. Has he not seen a recent Manchester United game? Because a lot of them play out like Sunday’s Manchester Derby, and although many people complain that United doesn’t deserve their results, Mancini is the manager of one of the top clubs in the world. He should be smarter than that.

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“We played, and they won.”

In context (video, below), this quote came off implying Manchester City came to win, United was doing something else, yet the Red Devils got full points. It seems strange for somebody like me, a blogger, to have to remind a man reared in Italian soccer that there’s more than one way to win a game.

There wasn’t much that separated City and United on Sunday. United, scoring on all three of their shots, executed better. That they did so earlier in the match allowed them to play passively though most of the game. City dominated most of the match, but playing from behind, that wasn’t surprising. They did well to pull back two goals from the league leaders.

But both teams “played.” United just played differently. This not only happens, it happens almost every game.

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“For 20 minutes, they didn’t touch the ball, and the first chance they had, they scored.”

As Alex Ferguson’s Sunday tactics implied, you get no credit for touching the ball. You get credit for goals, which require touching the ball, but you don’t need to do so exclusively to score more than your opponent.

If your team touches the ball for 20 straight minutes and doesn’t score, that’s not necessarily a point in your favor, nor is your inability to stop the other guy the second they get the ball.

Stepping away from my pedantic little pedestal, it’s not uncommon for a manager to use the post-match media rounds as to vent. I only wish the complaints were less predictable. If managers are really going to bend reality to their liking, I’d rather them be absurd about it. Well, more absurd about it.

Here are Roberto Mancini’s real comments:

  1. dfstell - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Yeah….it is galling to have this attitude that somehow possession equals a right to win the game. It’s almost like they think that in case of a draw, they should just use time of possession as a tiebreaker.

    What I thought was funny is how weird City’s strategy was. United has allowed a LOT of goals this year, but they allow almost all of them on the break. Part of that is because United will usually dominate possession against lesser teams, but it also is because Evra and Rafael don’t get back all that well and that leaves an aging Ferdinand and a (sometimes) shaky Evans to clean up a lot of messes. But, with City dominating possession, United could stay back and stay compact until it was time to break. Maybe not the best strategy….

    • Richard Farley - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      Agree. In that way, it was a lot like the Chelsea-United game from earlier this year. It’s not that surprising. The bigger surprise, to me, was City allowing themselves to get caught out for the first goal knowing United’s capability.

  2. delius1967 - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Howard Cosell said it first, and said it best: “It’s not how long you have the ball, it’s what you do with it when you do.”

    I think Mancini is just trying to distract attention away from his odd decision to start Balotelli.

  3. kets13 - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    not to mention if the refs got the young goal right it’d be 3-0 instead of 2-1 at that point and not near the close game spectacle that ended up playing out.

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