Skip to content

On what’s shaping up to be a bittersweet Saturday for Roberto Mancini

May 11, 2013, 11:18 AM EDT

Manchester City's manager Mancini listens to questions during a news conference at the club's Carrington training complex in Manchester Reuters

Logic says we should feel sorry for Roberto Mancini in the same way our strings would be tugged by anybody who’s about to be done wrong. But then you remember he’s a grown man. He’s had a hugely successful playing career. Between Inter Milan and Manchester City, he’s had the fortune to manage some incredibly funded and wildly talented teams. And, of course, with his possible exit from Manchester City, he’s brought this upon himself. If Mancini leaves Manchester City, he won’t be done wrong.

Late yesterday, Spanish outlet AS reported Manuel Pellegrini is set to leave Málaga for Manchester, a move that makes sense on a lot of levels. Pellegrini’s been successful almost everywhere he’s gone, including with Champions League-level clubs at Villarreal, Real Madrid, and Málaga. With the Andalusians in financial trouble, Pellegrini’s already hinted he’ll leave, and with Mancini failing to mount a title challenge, a well-respected coach like Pellegrini – one who has never failed to get the most of his talent – would be a boon for an already contending club.

All of which seems harsh on Mancini, especially with reports breaking on the eve of the FA Cup final. If City defeat Wigan (as is expected), Mancini will have produced three trophies in just over three seasons. The club’s now firmly entrenched in Champions League, and with the ability to draw talent like Sergio Aguero, the team has established a certain reputation in world soccer. Mancini’s taken City from a Mark Hughes-level aspirant to a being a major factor.

That, unfortunately, is not enough. City isn’t funded to be merely a major factor, and with the Citizens having failed to mound a meaningful defense of their first Premier League title, other failures come into focus. Mancini has not only failed to make headway in Champions League; their inept performance forces us to look back European struggles at Inter and ask if he’ll ever be able to move the Citizens forward in Europe. Indicting their boss, few players of his players have played their best this season. His tactics are often unduly reactionary, and his new ideas (this year’s early dalliance with a three-man back) have sometimes fallen flat. Combined with a transfer policy that used this year’s resources on the likes of Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, and Maicon, there are enough criticisms to put Mancini’s future in doubt.

Were we talking about somebody other than a Pellegrini – somebody with a well-rounded, practically unimpeachable managerial record – perhaps you could ask whether the grass would actually be greener with a new guy. But now he’s being compared to a man who took Villarreal to a Champions League semifinal and a top two finish in Spain. He has the best winning percentage in Real Madrid history. He had Málaga within seconds of beating Borussia Dortmund. Compared to that, Mancini looks second best.

Sheikh Mansour has proved patient at Manchester City, giving Mark Hughes a long rope before letting Mancini try to make something out of this season. And with a win today, Mancini just might. But a second FA Cup isn’t enough. Manchester United raced away with the league title, City finished fourth in their Champions League group, while the club’s ownership continues to make Manchester City the most well-funded team in England.

If Mancini had kept up with United, perhaps you could make the argument. If they’d better-competed with Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid (and even Ajax) in their Champions League group, you could argue they just had a tough draw. If the money that could have helped defend their Premier League crown wasn’t wasted on Garcia and Rodwell, you wouldn’t have poor decisions underlying their fall. And if Mancini have a better history with his ultra-talented teams, we wouldn’t be seeing a trend, one that forces us to look at Manchester United’s collapse and the state of calciopoli-ravaged Italy when explaining his successes.

For City fans, there is a sentimental attachment to a man that’s on the verge of a third trophy. But he’s not the only man who could have produced these results. And ultimately, he’s not the best man Manchester City could get. The only reason to feel sorry for Mancini is our discussing this an hour before kickoff.

Latest Posts
  1. Foot injury forces DF Hector Moreno to withdraw from Mexico’s 2015 Gold Cup squad

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Hector Moreno, Mexico — 2014 World Cup Hector Moreno, Mexico — 2014 World Cup

    A huge blow for Mexico as an injury will keep Mexico’s best defender off their Gold Cup squad.

  2. Club president: Ronaldinho has agreed terms with Turkish side Antalyaspor

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho, Queretaro — Liga MX (Mexico) Ronaldinho, Queretaro — Liga MX (Mexico)

    Ronaldinho is on the move again, and (thankfully) he’s not coming to MLS.

  3. Chile 2-1 Peru: Vargas’ wondergoal puts the hosts through to Copa America final (video)

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:23 PM EDT

    Eduardo Vargas, Chile — 2015 Copa America semifinal Eduardo Vargas, Chile — 2015 Copa America semifinal

    Chile will play for their first Copa America title on Saturday. A chance to make history at home.

  4. Dutch FA terminates Guus Hiddink’s contract amid EURO 2016 qualifying struggles

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    Guus Hiddink, Netherlands Guus Hiddink, Netherlands

    Guus Hiddink is out as Dutch national team manager after less than a year in charge. Who do they turn to now, ahead of EURO 2016?

  5. The final before the final: United States, Germany meet in Women’s World Cup semifinal

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 29:  Alex Morgan of USA talks to the media during a press conference and training session prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup Semi Final match between USA and Germany at Olympic Stadium on June 29, 2015 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the world, but it’s only a semifinal.

  6. FOLLOW LIVE — 2015 Copa America: Hosts Chile vs. Peru in semifinal no. 1

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Arturo Vidal, Chile Arturo Vidal, Chile

    By the end of tonight, either Chile or Peru will have booked their place in the final.

  7. MLS Player of the Week — Week 17: Portland Timbers’ Darlington Nagbe

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers — Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer - Portland Timbers Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers — Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer - Portland Timbers

    A goal and an assist — finally a dominant performance — in the weekend’s biggest rivalry game earns Darlington Nagbe POTW honors.

  8. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 17

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:27 PM EDT

    Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers

    “Rivalry Week” is in the books, and a number of derby day conquerors find themselves on the last MLS Team of the Week.

  9. Men in Blazers podcast special: USWNT’s Klingenberg talks defense, Germany, karate

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog talks with the USWNT’s Meghan Klingenberg about the team’s lockdown defense, her karate training, and living with Jeff Van Gundy’s family.

  10. Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fifth round preview: Cosmos look to do MLS’ N.Y. double, Charlotte hits Chicago

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT

    New York Cosmos player Lucky Mkosana (R) greets teammate Spanish Raul Gonzalez (L) during a Cuba vs New York Cosmos friendly soccer match on June 2, 2015 at Pedro Marrero stadium in Havana. AFP PHOTO/YAMIL  LAGE        (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Here’s what’s on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday as the USSF tournament stays regional.

  11. Report: Chinese side spends close to $15 million on Spurs’ Paulinho

    Jun 29, 2015, 12:52 PM EDT

    Paulinho's 63rd minute red card allowed a bright Liverpool attack even more space to work. Getty Images

    Guangzhou Evergrande have added a big name to their title charge in the Chinese Super League.

  12. Preview: Copa America semifinals — Can Peru, Paraguay stop an Argentina-Chile final?

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT

    Paraguay's forward Derlis Gonzalez celebrates after scoring against Brazil during their 2015 Copa America football championship quarter-final match, in Concepcion, Chile, on June 27, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Many if not all neutral fans expect Argentina and Chile to make it through their Copa America semifinals en route to a border battle final.

  13. It’s official: Petr Cech has swapped London clubs, Chelsea to Arsenal

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    Arsenal.com Arsenal.com

    That picture is weird, but we’ll get used to it once the Premier League season begins in August.

  14. 2015 Major League Soccer power rankings, Volume V: ‘Caps cap, Quakes shake up the Top Five

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:06 AM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWYzZDIwZmI4ODJlMjBlNjI2ZmZmN2JiMjRkOWM3ZjM4 Getty Images

    Less talking, more ranking. Feel free to debate in the comments section.

  15. Spanish football league becomes first to take legal action over Qatar World Cup dates

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Javier Tebas, President of Liga de Futbol Profesional during the Soccerex European Forum Conference Programme on September 10, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    FIFA’s weather-related move of the 2022 World Cup from to November-December has its first legal challenge.

Featured video

PST Extra: Sterling & latest transfer gossip