Manchester City's FA Cup Final preparations have been overshadowed by suggestions from Spain that manager Roberto Mancini is set to be replaced by Manuel Pellegrini, who has told his Malaga players that he is leaving the club.
The odds on the Malaga coach succeeding Mancini tumbled to 10-1 on after Mancini acknowledged that even winning the FA Cup against Wigan at Wembley may not be enough to save his job, a report in Spain’s AS newspaper also suggested that Pellegrini was joining the club.
City sources said that “no deal” was known of. The AS report was unconvincing – citing “reports in England” that Pellegrini, whose Malaga club are on their uppers financially, was joining City. There has been no great conviction here that the Chilean is replacing the Italian.
The online translation of the AS report also initially cited Sulaiman al-Fahim, a discredited one-time adviser to Sheikh Mansour whose services have been dispensed with, as the owner of City.
Yet Mancini did not seem positive about his continued role at City when he spoke earlier in the day. He said: “I won seven trophies in four years at Inter and they sacked me after four years. This is football. I know football enough to understand this.”
No-one else is anywhere close in the running with bookies to replace Mancini, with Jose Mourinho an outside bet at 16/1. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, recently met Pellegrini’s agent, Jesús Martínez, in Madrid, though as the agent also represents a number of players including the Málaga midfielder Isco, who may be a summer target, the meeting may have had nothing to do with Pellegrini.
Malaga are already scouting Europe’s lesser leagues as they prepare to sell everyone they can get a buyer for this summer. That might explain the Chilean manager’s cryptic message to his players.
Asked if the Martinez meeting concerned him, Mancini said on May 3: ""I hope that he had good dinner. I don't know why they met. You should ask these questions to Txiki not me. It's not important for me.
“In the last six months you [the media] have written everything. You started six or seven months ago with Pep [Guardiola], [José] Mourinho, Pellegrini, [Carlo] Ancelotti, Brendan Rodgers. I have four years left on my contract. I know that I work with serious people, like Khaldoon and Sheikh Mansour [the owner]. If there was another manager who won three trophies in two years you would say nothing about this manager. I don't know why you continue to ask or say these things."