Moody, petulant, indignant. How would City have dealt with a player like Mancini?

There is a sophisticated charm about Roberto Mancini; he is a man who looks as though he was born to wear expensive suits. When a player defies him, with his aura of class and authority, it feels wrong, against the natural order of things.

He gives such an air of calmness and rectitude that it seems almost incomprehensible that he was a player who found himself raged against authority, yet the truth is he was as rebellious as anybody in Serie A in the early Nineties, falling out with the Italy coach at successive World Cups, before a spectacular tantrum while playing for Sven Goran Eriksson at Sampdoria.

Other coaches have had their differences with Carlos Tevez, but perhaps the most revealing detail of this week's episode was Edin Dzeko's clear frustration when he was substituted. Taken alone, it probably would not be too significant – a player letting his displeasure be known as he leaves the pitch. But this was Dzeko, who has no previous record for stroppiness; a player, in fact, noted as being one of the nicest men in football. And this was Mancini, who seems to have taken the feistiness he showed as a player into management.

The most notorious and protracted of his strops came during the 1990 World Cup, and was directed against the coach Azeglio Vicini. Mancini had been captain of Vicini's Italy Under-21 side who, although beaten on penalties by Spain in the final of the 1986 European Under-21 Championships, are still regarded as the greatest youth side Italy has ever produced. There, he played alongside Gianluca Vialli, a partnership he reprised at Sampdoria.

To Mancini at least, he should have partnered him at the 1990 World Cup. Vicini's appointment as national coach was at least in part motivated by his supposedly good relationship with those young players, who were beginning to break into the senior side.

Mancini was one of six forwards Vicini selected in his 22-man squad – the result, many suspected, of Vicini's lack of ruthlessness when it came to making key decisions – but having started alongside Vialli at Euro 88, he seemed a likely starter, particularly when Vicini announced he would be "the surprise of the World Cup". "Yeah, the surprise was that I never got to play," Mancini moaned later. "I wasted 70 days of my life between the training camp and the World Cup and didn't get a single minute. 70 days! 70 days I'll never get back..."

At the time the conventional wisdom was that Mancini could not play in the same side as Roberto Baggio, who emerged as a world-class player at that tournament. "Nonsense!" Mancini said. "Anybody who understands football understands we could have easily played together."

The more likely explanation was politicking; priority was given to players, such as Napoli's Andrea Carnevale and Juventus's Toto Schillaci, who played for the giants of Italian football. "It was my fault," Mancini said. "My fault that I played for Samp. Just as it was Vialli's fault and Pietro Vierchowod's fault that they were also with Samp and not with a 'big club'. Let's face it, Vicini has never been a particularly brave man..." While he didn't actually refuse to play for Vicini, his general disruptiveness and the daily aggravation in training meant that Mancini effectively made it impossible for the coach to pick him.

And so Mancini never played a minute of a World Cup match. As a 17-year-old, he had been in Enzo Bearzot's provisional 40-man squad for the 1982 World Cup, but was left out of the final 22. He would surely have been included in the squad for 1986, but on a tour of the United States, he came back late after a night out in New York and found Bearzot waiting for him. "Perhaps I was wrong not to apologise," Mancini said, "but I had done nothing wrong. And Bearzot swore never to select me."

His hopes of going to the USA World Cup ended in March 1994, when he reacted furiously to being substituted at half-time of a friendly against Germany. Arrigo Sacchi refused to pick Mancini again. His international career ended that night, with 34 caps.

However, the worst incident perhaps came a year later in a game between Sampdoria and Internazionale. When the referee Marcello Nicchi turned down a penalty appeal, Mancini was furious and after he had been dragged away from the referee by his goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca, he stormed from the pitch, throwing down his captain's armband and insisting he wasn't going to play again.

After a long argument with Eriksson, his coach, he returned to the field, only to be sent off after a lunge at Paul Ince and more angry words with Nicchi. It earned him a six-week ban.

The world is full of reformed hotheads in positions of power – youthful indiscretions should not be used to deny a coach's authority – but you could be forgiven for wondering how Mancini the manager would have handled Mancini the player.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?