The light was briefly restored to Roberto Mancini's eyes yesterday when he was reminded of his youngest son's verdict on the differences between himself and Jose Mourinho. The 20-year-old Andrea Mancini, currently playing for Valladolid, believes that "Mou" lacks his father's experience as a player, and is "more psychological; more of a motivator".
Mancini, who needs all the advocates he can get as Europe comes around, also said yesterday that City's do-or-die Champions League tie at the Etihad Stadium tonight was "not Mourinho against Mancini, but City against Real Madrid". However, where European competition is concerned it really has been no contest between the Italian and the Portuguese.
Not only is Mourinho's Champions League win ratio 54.5 per cent compared to Mancini's 50 per cent, but the Portuguese was the man whom Internazionale courted in the spring of 2008 after Champions League elimination to Liverpool at the last-16 stage convinced the club that Mancini would never deliver the big prize. Mourinho delivered it to San Siro within 15 months.
So, as the Portuguese approaches his 100th Champions League tie tonight, the question should be asked: why has he eclipsed Mancini? Because being "more of a motivator" is a more valuable asset than Andrea Mancini gives credit for on these big nights. Because there is a feeling that Mourinho's deep craving for success in the competition exceeds the Italian's. Mancini has even admitted that he considers retaining the Premier League title to be a higher priority than Europe.
Of course, Mancini has had City's poor Uefa coefficient to contend with, pitching him from last season's group of death to this. But how City's big names have faded on these European occasions. Yaya Touré has not been the same force of nature; neither has Carlos Tevez. Sergio Aguero has hardly set Europe alight while there is an increasing sense that Mancini considers Mario Balotelli beyond redemption.
What Mancini said on this subject yesterday was not new but the way he said it was. "Sometimes he doesn't understand how his job is important for his life, but I hope he can understand this quickly," the manager said. "Now he is 22 but life can go quickly and I hope he can… understand that to be like [Ronaldo] you should work hard, your mind should be always on your job, not on the other things that are not important. I am very sorry for him for this."