Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini out of excuses for European failures

City's troubles in the Champions League will be little surprise to fans at Italian's former club, Inter

It was a night for concession speeches but, although both Mitt Romney and Yaya Touré invoked God, only the former Governor of Massachusetts actually admitted he was beaten.

Needing Manchester City to overcome Real Madrid and then Borussia Dortmund merely to have a chance of making the knockout stages of the Champions League, Touré remarked in the wake of the frenetic 2-2 draw with Ajax that has all but doomed his team: "We have to believe in God and I swear that maybe we can still go through. When you draw or lose, it is always difficult and, when you see the statistics, you can think we were unlucky. You have to have God with you."

God has not been with Roberto Mancini in the Champions League. A man who has won four league titles and a domestic cup with every club he has managed has never made it past a quarter-final in the European Cup.

This is a manager who in Manchester and Milan has twice taken the title by having to win on the final day of the season. On both occasions – with Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming on for Internazionale against Parma and Edin Dzeko against Queen's Park Rangers – it has been his tactical changes that secured the prize.

It is an imbalance that only Kenny Dalglish, who won four championships but never came remotely close to any European success, would recognise. And, at Liverpool, Dalglish laboured under the Heysel ban.

It will not help Mancini's mood that his fate will be decided by a Real Madrid side managed by Jose Mourinho, who at Inter did what Mancini failed to do and won the club's first European Cup since 1965.

Mancini has argued that City are not ready for the competition on the grounds that it is difficult to bring in big-name footballers with large egos and mould them into an effective unit. It took Mourinho two years, less time than Mancini has been in Manchester, to win the European Cup for Inter. And it is hard to imagine men less modest about their own abilities than Samuel Eto'o and Wesley Sneijder.

This was something Mancini never remotely came close to at Inter and shows no sign of doing in Manchester. Sometimes at San Siro he was undermined by individual indiscipline. His main striker, Adriano, was overweight and on the bottle. Indiscipline extended to the pitch. The following season, 2007-08, Inter faced Liverpool, had a man sent off in each leg, and Mancini's decision to employ Patrick Vieira as a defensive midfielder was ruthlessly exploited by Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt.

What undermined City has been a similar defensive frailty, emphasised by the fact that before kick-off on Tuesday no goalkeeper in this season's Champions League had had more shots aimed at him than Joe Hart. When Javi Garcia, who performed much the same role as Vieira did at Anfield, was taken off, a sigh of relief went round Eastlands.

You could argue Inter never really recovered from their first and best campaign under Mancini, which saw them qualify unbeaten from their group only to meet their neighbours in two literally incendiary matches at San Siro in April 2005. The second, Inter's "home" game, was abandoned with smoke pouring from the pitch as flares hailed down from the stands. One struck the Milan keeper, Dida. The game was abandoned, Inter were deemed to have lost 3-0 and ordered to play their next four fixtures in an empty arena.

Perhaps Mancini would argue that this was simply misfortune, of the kind that last season saw City become only the fifth club in the history of the Champions League to fail to qualify from their group with 10 points.

However there are other echoes that will not go away. Mancini has often picked disastrous times to fall out with his players. Last year in Munich it was Carlos Tevez. In 2006 during a 2-2 draw at Ajax, Mancini had to be separated from Marco Materazzi when the defender stalked down the tunnel after it was clear he would not be coming on as a substitute. His dressing rooms are sometimes cold places.

Ibrahimovic, the man who won the Scudetto for Mancini, was promptly sold by Mourinho but when asked about the Special One, said: "I could go out and kill for Mourinho, that's the motivation he gave me." Whether anyone would kill for Mancini is a question that has yet to be answered.

... but Mancini dodges ban for pitch rant at referee

Roberto Mancini will be able to oversee the remainder of Manchester City's Champions League group matches at close quarters after escaping disciplinary action for confronting a referee post-match.

It was thought the City manager would incur a touchline ban for his reaction after his side were held to a 2-2 draw by Ajax at the Etihad Stadium. Mancini went on to the pitch to argue with referee Peter Rasmussen after City had an 88th-minute Sergio Aguero goal disallowed and Mario Balotelli was denied a penalty in injury time.

But Uefa, announcing that no action would be taken over the incident after the final whistle, said: "Nothing was reported, neither by the delegate nor by the referee."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference