Skip to content

Roberto Mancini did himself no favors in City’s FA Cup flop

May 11, 2013, 4:54 PM EDT

FBL-ENG-FACUP-MAN CITY-WIGAN Getty Images

Manchester City’s manager bears a large portion of the blame for what happened today at Wembley, and with speculation about his job hitting a fever pitch prior to kickoff against Wigan, his team’s 0-1 upset loss may be the last chapter for Roberto Mancini on City’s sidelines. On a day that started with fans chanting support, denouncing the idea of replacing him with Manuel Pellegrini, Mancini did nothing to justify their faith.

His team came out flat, as if not grasping the occasion. To a certain extent, that happened two years ago, too, when a second half goal from Yaya Touré gave City a 1-0 FA Cup final win over Stoke City. But Touré, City’s hero over the last two years, hasn’t donned the cape year, and without that kind of mistake-erasing presence, the margins were always going to be thinner. Mancini should have used the last final’s lesson as a reason to have his team primed to play.

In the face of a Wigan team already setup to exploit the City, the lack of preparedness could have sent Mancini’s side down early. With Shaun Maloney falling back onto Touré and neither Samir Nasri nor David Silva positioned to help on Wigan’s wide man, City were always going to be exploited down the flanks. Add in a lack of energy from most of the team, and fullbacks Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy were always going to have trouble, especially once Wigan left wingback Roger Espinoza showed so much aggression charging up his flank. Keep more of the ball, work harder when you lose it, and yes, City could have offset the tactics. But they weren’t of the mindset to do so.

City survived until halftime, when it seemed like Mancini would make a change. With James Milner warming up during intermission, it looked like Clichy would get some help containing MacManaman, who was having his way down the right. But when Milner came on for Samir Nasri, he was deployed on the opposite flank, and while City also needed to give more consideration to Koné, Milner was cast above Zabaleta. Clichy was in serious need of help.

That Milner wasn’t in the starting lineup to begin with hints Mancini didn’t grasp the Latics’ threat. That, or though his faith in Samir Nasri, he is so intent on salvaging what’s been a poor season from his starting winger that he let the French international try to redeem himself with silverware on the line. Instead of playing Milner – his best wide defender and one player you could count on to bring the right intensity from minute one – Nasri was again given the starting nod.

The next sub, midway through the half, also displayed a degree of stubbornness. Just as he was willing to stay with Nasri despite a lackluster campaign, Mancini defaulted to his favorite tactical trick: His continued dalliance with a three-man defense. Jack Rodwell was on and Carlos Tévez, of all people, was brought off. Never mind that score was still 0-0, and never mind Tévez has the ability to take any ball sent out of the back and make it into a goal. And disregard the fact Marcini was, in moving to a scheme that’s had marginal success this year, positioning his side to start going almost like-for-like against Wigan. Tevez was still making way for Rodwell.

Given that dissonance, it’s perhaps appropriate that Rodwell was beaten for the goal, with Ben Watson cutting in front of him at the near post before flicking past Joe Hart. One of a slew of offseason signings that never worked out (along with Javi Garcia, Scott Sinclair, Maicon), it was poetic justice that the man bought on to enable the three-at-the-back dream was beaten to complete Mancini’s nightmare.

That nightmare started yesterday, when reporting in Spain linked Pellegrini with Mancini’s job. It will continue over the next seven days, with the final week of Mancini’s season sure to be dominated by news of a possible departure. With nothing to play for next week, Mancini could sleep walk through the turmoil with no effect on his squad. He could also crack, as he did before leaving Inter Milan, where at one point in 2008 he hastily announced his eventual departure, decided to stay on, and was fired three months later.

On Saturday, City played like a team overwhelmed by the gossip, but it’s a manager’s prepare a squad that isn’t derailed by tabloid headlines and boardroom shenanigans. And if the speculation about Mancini’s job wasn’t a factor in City’s performance, there are even fewer excused for why one of the world’s most expensive squads lost a major title to a relegation candidate.

Manchester City fans sang their support of Mancini during the final’s opening moments, but after a tepid display on one of the biggest stages, you wonder if they’ll change their tune. And if those fans don’t think another man could do better after watching today’s loss, will they ever concede their team’s made for more than this?

Latest Posts
  1. Cardiff, Tan claim to have evidence against Palace in spy accusation

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    Tan AP

    Employees have been disciplined and now Cardiff owner Vincent Tan is after a former employee.

  2. Arsene Wenger tips mid-table managers for postseason award

    Apr 17, 2014, 7:37 AM EDT

    Wenger Getty Images

    With Brendan Rodgers having steered Liverpool to unthinkable Premier League heights, Arsene Wenger believes the deciders should instead look to the league’s trenches to give out its postseason award.

  3. NWSL Digest: Reign, Flash flying as we move past Week 1

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:24 AM EDT

    vicky_losada

    Week one of the NWSL season sees Seattle atop of the league, but an import from Spain snagged her own headlines for Western New York.

  4. Henry, Sam goals see New York break into the win column

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT

    Thierry Henry 4

    It took six-and-a-half weeks, but last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners have their first victory of the season.

  5. WATCH: All the goals, highlights from the Premier League’s mid-week matches

    Apr 16, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT

    arsenal AP

    Three matches the shoot up the title, Champions League races:

  6. Ranking the candidates for MLS’s next expansion team (after Atlanta’s Wednesday announcement)

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    MLS Logo

    One location is the clear favor for No. 24, but down to one slot, the competition could pick up.

  7. With Agüero, Negredo removed, should we point the finger at Pellegrini?

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT

    manuel_pellegrini Getty Images

    Like his players, City’s boss has plenty of questions to answer after Wednesday’s disappointment.

  8. Atlanta, MLS don’t need to quiet doubts to be successful in the Southeast

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

    Arthur Blank AP

    If Atlanta, Miami aren’t good sports towns, it may not matter. The doubts critics have cast on the league’s Southeast excursion may be irrelevant.

  9. Real Madrid beat Barcelona to win Copa del Rey, as Bale’s brilliance seals it

    Apr 16, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    Gareth Bale AP

    Real win Copa del Rey as Barcelona’s bad run continues:

  10. It’s official: Atlanta gets Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise

    Apr 16, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

    Arthur Blank AP

    One more spot in MLS’s planned expansion is gone, with Atlanta set to begin play in 2017.

  11. Manchester City 2-2 Sunderland: Two Wickham goals, late Nasri equalizer leave sides even (video)

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT

    connor_wickham Getty Images

    Two late goals gave Sunderland a lead, one City pulled back just before full-time.

  12. Everton 2-3 Crystal Palace: Toffees’ top four hopes take huge hit

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:51 PM EDT

    Everton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Eagles soar to safety, but Everton’s Champions League dreams are in ruins:

  13. Fernando Llorente: Carlos Tévez and I deserve to go to the World Cup

    Apr 16, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

    Italy Soccer Serie A AP

    Two of Serie A’s most productive scorers may not be at this summer’s World Cup. Llorente wonders why.

  14. WATCH: Premier League Player of the Week – Week 34

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    Philippe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard AP

    Which Liverpool player picked up the Player of the Week accolade?

  15. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    sergio_aguero Getty Images

    Both sides look to cash in on matches in hand at the Etihad.

  16. Watch Live: Everton vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Everton v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Tim Howard and the Toffees win their eighth-straight game? Watch live online, right here:

  17. Ahead of Atlanta’s expected MLS entry, are NFL stadium shares the way to go?

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Source: AtlantaFalcons.com Source: AtlantaFalcons.com

    Having MLS teams share their home with NFL sides could be a smart move ahead of the next wave of expansion:

  18. WATCH: Premier League Team of the Week – Week 34

    Apr 16, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

    Liverpool's defense still looked leaky, but a mistake from Kompany saved them. AP

    Find out who made the PL Team of the Week, right here:

  19. Premier League Preview: Man City host Sunderland, Everton face Palace

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Two PL matches take place on Wednesday, with both set to impact the top and bottom of the standings:

Featured video

PST Extra: Race for the PL title