Skip to content

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

May 11, 2013, 11:18 AM EST

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. Jermaine Jones hears all the New England Revolution’s haters, thanks them for their motivation

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Bernardo Anor, Jermaine Jones — AP AP

    Dear haters: Jermaine hears you, is not bothered by you and still loves you. Look out, Red Bulls.

  2. MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Red Bulls vs. Revolution, Galaxy vs. Sounders in Conference Championship first legs

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    The 2014 season is nearly finished, as the MLS Cup Playoffs resume this weekend. A few facts and stats to excite ahead of Sunday’s action.

  3. MLS: Orlando City coach Adrian Heath signs extension through 2017

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The English-born coach has had big success in Orlando since the club began play in 2011, winning the regular season title in three of four seasons.

  4. Vancouver announces USL PRO team, expansion of training facilities

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:20 PM EST

    Whitecaps FC2

    Whitecaps FC 2 will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia.

  5. English PFA chief wants mandated minimum 3 players in Premier League starting lineups

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The quota request comes after the BBC conducted a “State of the Game” survey that dug into the international representation in the Premier League.

  6. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:50 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-WEST BROM Getty Images

    Can the Baggies improve on last year’s point at Stamford Bridge?

  7. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 12

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:40 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 12.

  8. Batman vs. Valencia; DC Comics suing La Liga club over new crest

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    Valencia v Elche - La Liga Getty Images

    I’m a fan of Batman, but seems to me “The Dark Knight” should consider rocking Valencia’s bat rather than his own. Looks slick.

  9. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EST

    Here’s how PST’s lead writer and editor sees things panning out this weekend.

  10. These deserving nominees are the biggest snubs of MLS Award season

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam AP

    So to the MLS players, coaches and “media members who regularly covered the league”, sit back and enjoy your biggest screw-ups.

  11. Former Man Utd teammates Welbeck, Rooney prepares for “weird” match as Arsenal hosts Red Devils

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:14 AM EST

    Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck AP

    Welbeck is used to being on the side of the favorites in this matchup, as Manchester United has dominated the series in recent years.

  12. Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:25 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Danny Welbeck’s first Premier League game against his former team is just one subplot as the Gunners host the Red Devils.

  13. Americans Abroad preview: Chandler vs. Johnson headlines European action

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:41 AM EST

    Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    All Americans plying their trade in the Premier League have a decent look at points, while two in the Championship will opening things up with Friday matches.

  14. Trophée des Champions returning to North America to kick off 2015-16

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:49 AM EST

    Trophée_des_Champions

    Paris Saint-Germain has claimed the last two Trophées with wins over Bordeaux and Guingamp, but this year’s table is clustered.

  15. Swansea City rolling: Garry Monk says sense of ‘togetherness’ has been crucial

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:17 AM EST

    Swansea City v Leicester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Swansea manager Garry Monk is hoping for the best as the Swans journey to play Manchester City at the Etihad this weekend.

  16. Jay Heaps directs plenty of credit to Jermaine Jones for Revs’ achievements

    Nov 20, 2014, 11:42 PM EST

    Jermaine-Jones-in-action-for-Revolution

    Coupled with a breakout year from Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones’ skill and leadership have guided the New England Revolution to one of Major League Soccer’s most cohesive units.

  17. Mascherano completely rules out possibility of Messi leaving Barca

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Lionel Messi, Neymar Lionel Messi, Neymar

    Mascherano: “Messi didn’t say anything weird, he said what all football players are thinking.”

  18. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew applauds Ayoze Perez’s dominant form

    Nov 20, 2014, 9:24 PM EST

    Newcastle United v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League Newcastle United v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League

    Alan Pardew has enjoyed newcomer Ayoze Perez’s huge impact, as the young Spain international has netted three goals in three consecutive matches.

  19. Sheffield United rescind training offer from convicted rapist Ched Evans

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:19 PM EST

    Soccer - Ched Evans file photos

    Following widespread discontent, convicted rapist Ched Evans won’t be back on the field for Sheffield United as expected.

  20. Inside MLS fan groups: DC United

    Nov 20, 2014, 7:32 PM EST

    Columbus Crew v D.C. United Getty Images

    Meet the supporters of D.C. United, an MLS club steeped in tradition since the league’s inception.