May 11, 2013, 11:18 AM EST
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.
Dec 21, 2013, 7:41 PM EST
Chelsea has the mark, with 103 goals during the 2009-10 season:
Dec 21, 2013, 7:15 PM EST
The best 8 minutes of soccer you’ll see today:
Dec 21, 2013, 5:40 PM EST
Leave it to the French to put a (wonderful) theatrical flourish on SKC’s triumphant campaign:
Dec 21, 2013, 5:08 PM EST
A huge day for the U.S. international and his team:
Dec 21, 2013, 4:34 PM EST
Hart’s reinstatement as starter in goal was surely among the dominant subplots today for City:
Dec 21, 2013, 4:06 PM EST
Watch a video tribute for a man “widely acknowledged as the definitive voice of British sport.”
Dec 21, 2013, 3:20 PM EST
The young American international scores No. 18 this season for Alkmaar as his sensational season continues in Holland:
Dec 21, 2013, 2:30 PM EST
Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen dropped points, while teams at the bottom of the Bundesliga table managed to gain a few.
Dec 21, 2013, 1:50 PM EST
Watch this bizarre own goal as Kompany slices the ball over Joe Hart and into his own net:
Dec 21, 2013, 1:29 PM EST
Recaps, reaction, video highlights and more from all seven PL games on Saturday:
Dec 21, 2013, 1:13 PM EST
Want to watch all the PL action and hear the experts analyze every game? Watch MOTD live here:
Dec 21, 2013, 12:58 PM EST
Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay spoke after his side lost to Liverpool, stating that, despite an ultimatum from owner Vincent Tan, he would not resign.
Dec 21, 2013, 12:26 PM EST
Baggies bounce back as fighting spirit surfaces in rambunctious battle with Hull:
Dec 21, 2013, 12:17 PM EST
Sunderland fought hard for all three points, but in the end, they remain dead last after a goalless draw with Norwich.
Dec 21, 2013, 12:13 PM EST
The Toon are on the verge of the top four after another superb victory at plucky Palace:
Dec 21, 2013, 12:04 PM EST
Villa managed to make the match interesting for about five minutes, but ultimately it was fairly easy for Stoke to get all three points.
Dec 21, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
United back in the groove as superb attacking display dispatches Hammers:
Dec 21, 2013, 11:57 AM EST
Fulham came back from 2-0 down, but City were simply the superior side, ultimately trotting out the winners.
Dec 21, 2013, 11:05 AM EST
United flying high as Moyes’ men are putting on a show at Old Trafford, watch the second half unfold:
Dec 21, 2013, 9:58 AM EST
Rooney returns, can he help United down the Hammers? Watch live, right here:
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