Management reshuffle at Manchester City delivers major blow to Roberto Mancini


Roberto Mancini has suffered a major blow to his power base at Manchester City, with Txiki Begiristain's appointment as the club's director of football effectively reducing the Italian's role to that of first-team coach.

City's chief executive, Ferran Soriano, who was recruited from Barcelona this summer, has driven the move to appoint Begiristain – the Catalan club's former technical director, with whom he worked for three years building success at the Nou Camp. Mancini will now find himself below these two very close allies – and third in City's new "pyramid of excellence".

In a further setback, the City manager was also waiting for scan results on the serious knee injury suffered by Micah Richards in Saturday's 1-0 home win against Swansea City.

Far from representing victory for Mancini in his battle to exercise greater control than Brian Marwood, who becomes managing director of City's new £200m football academy, the appointment of Begiristain leaves the Italian able only to recommend which players City might buy.

With the academy as instrumental to City's future as La Masia has been for Barcelona, Marwood's move should not be seen as a demotion. Though he will not be as elevated in the hierarchy as when he and former chief executive Garry Cook ran the club, the new management structure frees him from a difficult relationship with Mancini to a significant, secure job considered vital to the club's sustainability.

The sensitive nature of Begiristain's appointment within the present management structure may explain why the 48-year-old Spaniard's appointment was slipped out at midnight on Saturday by City, who denied the story last week.

Though Mancini has openly challenged the authority of Marwood and Cook, Soriano believes deeply in clearly defined management structures and will certainly expect Mancini to conform to the new set-up.

When Begiristain drew up a nine-point criteria document for Soriano, to enable Barcelona to find a successor to Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona, the first requirement on the list was a need to "respect the sporting management model and the role of the football director".

The document stipulated that "the director of football has the power of the final decision". Pep Guardiola best fitted the specification and was hired. Guardiola's arrival at City is not a foregone conclusion.

Evidence that Mancini will now be considered first-team coach is reflected in the way Soriano has described Barcelona's success between 2008 and 2010. "The board appointed Txiki Begiristain to lead the team as football director and Frank Rijkaard as coach," he has said of that period, generally putting Begiristain's name first in his account of how the technical director and Rijkaard worked together.


Get Adobe Flash player


He also encouraged Begiristain to help Rijkaard change his management style when the team began failing.

Mancini will not be told which team to pick by Begiristain, a former left winger for Barcelona and Real Sociedad. But Soriano and Begiristain's determination that the coach must not brief against the club was key to them not appointing Jose Mourinho to succeed Rijkaard in 2008.

Eliminated from the League Cup, Mancini will have a full week to regroup and gather his thoughts on the appointment of Begiristain.

He certainly gave no indication of the new structure in the aftermath of the Swansea game, which brought some respite from the criticism that followed the Champions League defeat by Ajax.

"After all that has been said in the last few days, I thought we were in last position in the Premier League," Mancini said. "But I have just looked at the table and we are second."

Nevertheless, the injury to Richards, who was carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask, is another blow to an area of the team that already looks weak. Richards may have been vocal in his criticism of City's tactics during last Wednesday's 3-1 debacle in Amsterdam but on the only other occasion the champions have kept a clean sheet – last month's 3-0 win over Sunderland – Richards had looked once more an international-class defender.

There is still far too much resting on Vincent Kompany's shoulders for City to be entirely comfortable. Last season he contributed more than perhaps anyone, this time his form has been indifferent, although Kompany believes both the praise and the criticism are overdone.

"We did our job here," he said. "When you look at the league and the games that are coming up, we expected nothing but a win and that is all that will be remembered."

With the 12 minutes of stoppage time for injuries to Richards and the Swansea keeper, Michel Vorm, it will be remembered as the longest game in the history of the Premier League.

The champions were booed off at the interval, leaving Mancini to observe: "When you are tired and have just been beaten in the Champions League, maybe you can be disappointing. All teams need their supporters for 90 minutes."

Begiristain's Barca coups and flops

Txiki Begiristain will fondly remember Barcelona's 6-2 win away to Real Madrid in 2009 as perhaps his proudest moment. Six of the team that played that day were his signings. Eric Abidal, Dani Alves, Yaya Touré, Gerard Pique, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry were all brought to the club by him. His signings weren't all successful, making losses on Alex Hleb, Maxi Lopez and Dmitro Chygrinski.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own