As Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini prepared for a crucial FA Cup tie at home to Leeds United today, Danny Mills, who played for both clubs, said Mancini's reaction to his criticisms on Friday only emphasised the pressure he is under. The former England full-back says he does not have any inside information but he believes that losing to Leeds, which would effectively end any chance of the champions winning a trophy this season, could get Mancini the sack.
The City manager's response to that suggestion was that in that case every Premier League manager should fear dismissal, and that anyone thought he would be sacked did not understand football. But Mills retorted last night: "If he thinks every manger in the Premier League has the same remit as him then I'm not sure he understands football. I'd be a bit a bit surprised if Tony Pulis at Stoke or Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton had the same remit. At a club like Manchester City you're expected to get results. Where was Mark Hughes in the table when he was sacked - fourth place? His job was to get into the Champions League, it wasn't working, so he got the sack."
Mills believes there is discontent below the surface at the Etihad, which could "explode" with any more results and performances as bad as last Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Southampton, leaving City 12 points behind Manchester United at the top of the table. Finishing bottom of their group in the Champions' League was another huge disappointment.
"How can one comment of mine make him react like that if he's not under pressure?" Mills asked yesterday. "There have been issues too, with Balotelli and Tevez, and it's not been an easy road. There was a quote from a City executive about re-looking at the strategy. Well read between the lines of that."