Don't believe the hype about Mancini's feats

Italy's match-fixing scandal helped hand City's new manager his first two Serie A titles. Ian Herbert examines the gilded path of the man called 'Mancio'

One thing is for sure in the uncertain weeks ahead for Manchester City: there won't be many more scorelines like Saturday's. The Italian coaches like Roberto Mancini, who earn their coaching badges at the Coverciano in Florence, are taught to understand that you build a team around a solid defence. A 4-3 result is considered a disaster.

But there are few other certainties for the 45-year-old supposedly better equipped than Mark Hughes to take City to a fourth-placed finish. The word Italy has for Mancini is predestinato – always destined to do well – and it carries the slight aspersion that Mancini has been gifted his coaching chances by virtue of his reputation as one of Italy's most naturally gifted players.

He had barely finished his playing days – at Peter Taylor's Leicester City, after his great friend Gianluca Vialli said he must try out the English game – when he took the Fiorentina job, without coaching badges, which caused a brief controversy in Italy. He won an Italian Cup both there and at Lazio, his next assignment, but the insignificance of that cup cannot be over-exaggerated. The Italians field reserve sides and play in semi-deserted stadiums until the final of a tournament which makes the English League Cup look hotly contested.

Yet this was still deemed enough to take Mancini to Internazionale at the start of the 2004-05 season and though three Serie A titles followed, there was something decidedly predestinato about the first of them as Mancini became the prime beneficiary of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal which meant that Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio were in Serie B and Juventus Serie C1. The second title next season was a similar procession with Juventus in Serie B and Milan starting with an eight-point handicap. Only the third consecutive title was down to Inter alone.

This is the context in which Mancini's reputation as the most successful Inter club manager of 30 years must be judged and though the Italian press was full of self-congratulatory editorials yesterday, concluding that Mancini following Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti to these shores proves that England is adopting the talent of a footballing nation it once reviled, the new City manager is not considered to be anywhere near the Capello/Marcello Lippi bracket. He has never succeeded in Europe.

"Mancio" mirrors Hughes in some ways: reserved, softly spoken and a manager who has no desire to cultivate a relationship with the press. But he differs in his relationship with players and is seen as a manager who wants to be close to his players. It was part of Hughes's tough culture that he was not willing to mollycoddle his multimillionaire stars.

Neither are there signs from Mancini's eight-year coaching career that he is as keen on developing youth players as Hughes. Only when Jose Mourinho succeeded him did youngsters like Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon flourish. The future looks a very different place for City.

Road to Manchester: Mancini's CV

*Born 27 November 1964, Jesi, Italy

*Club career: 1981-82 Bologna, 1982-97 Sampdoria, 1997-2000, Lazio, 2001 Leicester City. Four goals in 36 games for Italy

Trophies: two Serie A titles, six Coppa Italias, two Cup Winners' Cups.

*Managerial career: 2001-02......... Fiorentina, 2002-04 Lazio, 2004-08......... Internazionale, 2009+ Man City.

Trophies: three Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee