Five reasons Roberto Mancini's reign at Manchester City could be in its final days
A year after landing title, manager may pay for not retaining it, writes Tim Rich
Men who take the Premier League title from Sir Alex Ferguson do not last long. Kenny Dalglish quit the moment he did. Carlo Ancelotti lasted a season, while Jose Mourinho survived a few months after Manchester United wrested their championship back. Here, after a 2-0 defeat at Everton all but finished off Manchester City's hopes of retaining their title, are five reasons why Roberto Mancini may go the same way.
1 The creative tension isn't that creative any more
Gary Lineker once described Ferguson as "a strange man, irritated by everything". The same could be said of Mancini. Last month he was too angry to go into his own dressing room at Southampton, on Saturday he could not bring himself to climb up to Everton's press room. He has rounded publicly on Samir Nasri and Joe Hart while finally putting and end to his relationship with Mario Balotelli. Mancini has always had a good rapport with those in his first 11, although one former player commented: "If you're not in his team, he doesn't want to know you." That coldness may have spread beyond the substitutes' bench. When he explained the tensions at Internazionale that led to Mancini's departure five years ago, the president, Massimo Moratti, said: "We were still rowing in the same direction but we were having to row harder."
2 He is not a man for the long term
By his own admission, Mancini is not someone who sees himself at the same club for a decade and there have been plenty of offers of work coming his way. This summer will be a critical one for City and the owners may want a coach to oversee the fruits of that spending for the next half-dozen seasons or more. Mancini was appointed because he was a better, more credible brand than Mark Hughes and he may go for the same reason.
3 Club are paying for an idle summer
Mancini is not directly responsible for transfers and it was to his fury that Eden Hazard, Robin van Persie and Javi Martinez went to Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while he had to make do with Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair. The charge against Mancini is that none of these players, for whatever reason, has made any real contribution. On Friday, Mancini admitted he should have pressed harder for the club to sign a central defender in the January transfer window as cover for the injured Vincent Kompany.
4 City have become also-rans in title race
It is hard for any manager to retain a league title. In England only five men in the last 60 years have done it but in points terms City are on course to make one of the worst defences of the crown in the history of the Premier League. Only two champions have finished as far adrift of the eventual winners as City are now. Manchester United limped in 15 points behind Arsenal's "Invincibles" in 2004 while Blackburn Rovers, who had opted not to strengthen after winning the title, were fully 21 points off the pace when handing back the Premier League trophy in 1996.
5 Champions League failure counts against him
Should City win the FA Cup – and they are favourites to do so – Mancini's position with the supporters will be cemented still further. However, the key to City's progress is the Champions League and, unless they can qualify for the latter stages and raise their Uefa coefficient, they will be forever condemned to being drawn against the big beasts in the group stages. Will a management team of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, brought up at Barcelona, really entrust the club to a manager who has never reached even a semi-final of the European Cup, a trophy that, by June, a suddenly unemployed Mourinho might have won three times?
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