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.

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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine