Roberto Mancini should certainly be feeling the heat as the Premier League season draws to a close. He took over the coaching reins at Manchester City three years ago and despite spending more money than Robert Mugabe on a trip to Malaysia, the sole output of his time in charge thus far has been a solitary FA Cup. Having improved Manchester City’s Premier League position for the past two years and qualified for the Champions League, big things were expected for the 2011/12 season.
In the aftermath of the defeat to Arsenal that saw the Manchester team fall further behind in their pursuit of the Premier League title, the majority of newspaper headlines were devoted to Mario Balotelli and the two yellow cards he received to be dismissed in 89th minute of the game.
Although Balotelli’s actions certainly did not assist his team mates in attempting to claw a goal back, the blame should be directed solely at Roberto Mancini and his team selection and tactics. Mancini has been at the helm and appears seemingly helpless to arrest the woeful form of Manchester City for the majority of 2012. Placing the blame on the shoulders of Balotelli makes for an easy scapegoat but makes it easy for Mancini to escape censure.
As the season has progressed, Mancini has appeared to become more and more cautious in his football style. He seems to have adopted the Rafa Benitez Premier League philosophy approach which is to play not to lose, instead of playing to win. This is the exact opposite of Manchester United’s recent run of victories, which has seen them pull away from City. Many will point to United’s previous experience in winning championships as the reason for this, but Mancini was at the helm when he guided Inter Milan to the scudetto on the last day of the 2007/08 season. Surely, Mancini should be able to inspire the same level of determination in his current squad of players?
David Silva was in terrific form during the first half of the season, but has gone off the boil since January 2012 and the word is that he has been struggling with an ankle injury. This then begs the question of why Mancini appears to be so reliant on one man to provide the creative spark for an entire team? Surely, the point of having a squad of players is to have backup for injuries and suspensions. The fact that Silva has continued to play whilst obviously not operating at 100% speaks volumes about how Mancini views the balance of his squad.
Sergio Aguero is an excellent attacking threat, but like all members of a team he requires assistance in order to be at his best. During the game against Arsenal, Aguero was often isolated and received little or no support from his midfield colleagues. This is allied to Mancini’s conservative and cautious approach to the game from the outset.
In advance of Manchester City’s game against West Bromwich Albion, Mancini was quick to dig into the Kenny Dalglish book of excuses for being utter crap reasons why the team is actually doing a whole lot better this year. He stated (with a straight face) that “I just know today we have 15 points more than we had at this stage last year”.
With the notable exception of Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson in England, it appears to be all too common for managers in the Premier League to be summarily dismissed should they not meet the high expectations of the club chairmen or the fans. However, it should be borne in mind that not all managers have managed to spend the GDP of a small nation on players and only have an FA Cup to show for it.
Roberto Mancini is certainly living on borrowed time. Only Sheikh Mansour can say for certain if he will remain in charge for another season.