Both Manchester managers saw the bigger picture yesterday but only one was really in command of it. Roberto Mancini had "one thing to say before the football" and it was to "thank all the good people in Manchester who helped to calm the situation" and it was welcome that he put the value of social cohesion above the value of Samir Nasri.
But for Sir Alex Ferguson a sense of bafflement with the motivations of the rioters who took to the streets of Manchester came with the certainties of knowing the minds of his own young people. "They really want to wake up and appreciate the society they are in," he said, of the looters. And what about signing Wesley Sneijder? "I'm happy with the young players I've got."
Ferguson spoke with the ease of a man vindicated by his decision to place his faith in youth, while Mancini finds himself in the midst of his own maelstrom, still buying, selling and assimilating like fury as City launch off into their fourth season under Abu Dhabi ownership: the one in which Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is expecting a title. "I am worried," Mancini said yesterday, frustrated by the fact that Nasri will not, after all, be his player in time to face Swansea on Monday.
It doesn't help that Mancini and his coaching staff seem to form a nucleus removed from the City board. "It's not just them. It's a difficult market at the moment," he said of the chief executive, Garry Cook, and football administration officer, Brian Marwood, when explaining his Nasri frustrations.
The breadth of talent available to Mancini, with Nasri expected to sign by Monday, makes it difficult to envisage anyone but City chasing United hardest. But it seemed significant that, as Mancini launched into a speech on the rioters yesterday, his watch alarm went off. Expect more of them to sound in a turbulent nine months ahead.Reuse content