Dave Whelan's dream two months ago that Wigan Athletic would win the FA Cup final by beating Manchester City came true in spectacular fashion yesterday when Ben Watson headed the only goal in the last minute of an entertaining game. Watson had broken his leg last November, just as Wigan's owner did playing for Blackburn Rovers in the 1960 Cup final. So it was a suitably dream-like ending for a club who were near the bottom of the fourth division when Whelan took over in 1995.
For Roberto Mancini, however, the nightmare continues. Initially dismissing as "rubbish" stories that Manuel Pellegrini, the 59-year-old Chilean in charge of Malaga, will become his successor next month, the embattled City manager (pictured) was reduced later last night to blaming the club for not denying the reports. "I don't know why they didn't stop this," he said. "I have a four-year contract. If we get second position in the League, it's a good season for us. How many teams did better?"
More telling were his remarks on Friday, which smacked of being resigned to his fate: "I know football enough to understand this situation. I won seven trophies in Inter in four years and they sack me." His problem at City has been the same as with the Milan club: a failure to make any impact in the Champions' League. In each of his four seasons Internazionale were eliminated early in the knockout stages but two years later they won the competition under Jose Mourinho.
In two seasons City have failed to qualify from the group stage. Unlucky last season when they managed 10 points, in the current campaign they did not win one of their six matches.
Pellegrini publicly hinted at his imminent departure last night as he prepared for what could be his penultimate home game in charge of Malaga today against Sevilla. Speaking in relation to the lack of money at the club, he said: "It's a strange situation. I don't believe anyone wants to leave. Everyone wants to stay but unfortunately the circumstances don't allow it."