Roberto Mancini is the envy of all other football managers.
Roberto Mancini is the envy of all other football managers. He has fantastic players, brilliant resources (soon to be improved by a £50 training ground) and the support of a board of Directors that demands results. And they have the right to demand results. Huge sums paid for Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Joleon Lescott, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and David Silva have meant that Mancini and his predecessors have little room for error when it comes to results.
Mark Hughes was sacked after a season despite many being happy with his performance but Mancini has nearly been in charge two seasons and has fared much better. Hughes spent almost £70 million on Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Roque Santa Cruz, a bunch that collectively are worth half this sum. Barry is still a Manchester City fixture in the midfield it won’t be long before he is asked to make way for a Daniele De Rossi or a Miguel Veloso.
Mancini has brought stability, but the signings he has made have been heavily questioned and lead to consequences for the City manager. Balotelli has caused nothing but trouble, getting in fracases with Adebayor and Jerome Boateng amongst others, but it seems to be the case that Mancini is the only one capable of getting a positive reaction out of him. Despite a pile of parking tickets as tall as Vincent Kompany, he is adjusting to life in Manchester and his goal celebration against Everton showed a sense of togetherness. The forthcoming game against Bayern Munich, their first ever away game in the Champions League, was looming and preparation was good.
Having watched the game and witnessed what unfolded it is clear that Mancini has a lot to think about. As Sheikh Mansour supplies the money, it is the manager’s job to create a sense of unity within a squad that pulsates talent. Bayern exploited every inch of Man City’s forage into the unknown and were worthy winners, yet it is symbolic that the story of the match has barely been told, in which Mario Gomez scored twice (he now has 11 goals in 7 games) in a 2-0 win. The controversy began in the 55th minute when Edin Dzeko was subbed off with City two-nil down. He was replaced by Nigel De Jong. A strange choice but one the player should none the less have accepted. Dzeko consequently had a hissy-fit and was left sulking on the bench, his track-suit top thrown to the floor. Mancini has publicly condemned his actions, remarking he will be a substitute against Blackburn this weekend, a game he would surely have started due to Blackburn’s physicality.
Then came the main action. Carlos Tevez, after warming up initially, refused to continue his exercises and come on as Mancini searched for a way back into the game. Zabaleta got involved, as a peace-maker, and there was distinct and obvious unrest on the sidlelines. Tevez has searched for an escape from Eastlands for some time now, submitting two transfer requests within seven months, but remains an outstanding player. He may be far down the pecking order but Manchester City fans know that they wouldn’t even be in the Champions League if it wasn’t for the Argentine.
Mancini stated after the game that Tevez will never play for the club again, meaning that clubs looking for players in January should be able to get Tevez cheaper than the £50 million City were demanding a month ago. Despite Mancini’s initial fury, which is quite right, calls for Tevez to be sacked are premature. If City keep him until the window re-opens they will certainly be able to sell. Inter have been long-term admirers and are struggling early on this season. Claudio Ranieri has always championed hard work and tenacity, something Tevez will bring in abundance.
Mancini and his star-studded squad are now under the spotlight of the footballing world (something they should have become accustomed to) but for all the wrong reasons. The manager must speak to Brian Marwood and the Sheikh to fix this problem before it does, and it will, escalate. Mancini has never been deluded but this will be the most pressing time of his reign up to now. There is more disharmony than ever before and City, with their owners and the fans expectancy, cannot stumble as they once may have been permitted.