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Man City sacked Roberto Mancini as much for off field reasons as on field performance


Man City pulled the plug on the Roberto Mancini era as swiftly as it began. Before anyone sheds any tears, remember that Mancini was near enough moving in to Mark Hughes’ office when Hughes was called upstairs for a meeting. The sacking has received a mixed reaction but if anything the majority have come down on the side of it being unfair. They point to his FA Cup win in 2011 and even more so, his Premier League win in 2012. They point to the fact that he wasn’t given the players he wanted this summer which left him with a thin squad. The counter argument is that he’s failed for two years in a row in the Champions League, lost the FA Cup to soon to be relegated Wigan and not put up a resistance in the title defence. He’s spent hundreds of millions of pounds and wasted a lot of that. The main reason though, could be that his personality just didn’t fit with how ownership wanted to portray the club.

Both of these have their merits, so let’s look through the main objections one by one.

The ‘Objectives’ The official reason that Mancini has been sacked is that he missed almost all of the targets given to him in pre-season by the ownership. Like, you know, in a real business. Those objectives were;
– Win the Premier League
– Reach the knockout phase of the Champions League
– Win a domestic trophy
– Play exciting football
– Qualify for next season’s Champions League
– Increase the reputation of the club

The Premier League title defence Mancini hasn’t been sacked because he didn’t defend the Premier League but because he didn’t even get close to defending it. If they were still in the race coming up to this weekend he would of course still be in the job. Even if City had finished runners up but had taken it right down to the wire and forced Man United to win it rather than letting them win it unopposed it would be a much different proposition to sack him.

The Champions League failure Now, this is by far the most harsh of the objectives that Mancini failed on. City’s group included finalists Borussia Dortmund, semi-finalists Real Madrid and a very dangerous young Ajax team. Even before the campaign started it looked like a huge ask to get out of the group. Again though, it’s not because they didn’t get out of the group but how. City didn’t win any games and their three points was the lowest ever recorded by an English champion. On top of this, they didn’t even look capable of winning games. City were completely outclassed both technically and tactically. Mancini never made an impact with Inter Milan in Europe and looked similarly out of his depth at City. It does take time for clubs to adapt to the Champions League, see Chelsea, but there weren’t any signs of promise that they could win the one competition that the ownership most desire.

The FA Cup loss This is really a compound reason, not a cause in itself. There is no way he would have been sacked just for losing the FA Cup final but on top of the Premier League showing and especially the Champions League showing it looks much worse. City were expected to coast to the cup win given their lowly opponents and make it a third successive season with a trophy. The real issue with this point, is that Mancini was already under intense pressure leading in to the final as news broke that he might be sacked before the final. Even if they’d won it he probably would have gone because of the first two points but that he didn’t win it, and they put in a really poor showing which looked to be physically embarrassing for ownership, was the final straw.


Tactical inefficiency and under performing players This is really the root cause of all of the above. Last season City won the league on the back of Aguero’s goals and the creativity of Silva and Nasri behind him. Sometimes Aguero was partnered by Dzeko and late in the season by Tevez which saw an explosion of goals. They looked formidable. This season though, Mancini has rotated his strikers around which hasn’t allowed them to gain any momentum. Last season Aguero was the striker and his support cast revolved around him. This season he was injured in the opening game and then rushed back and has only shown fits and starts of form. Silva and Nasri have not been any where near their levels of last year and in a desperate search for form have both wandered ever more centrally which has made City narrow and congested.

Mancini tried his much maligned 352/343 system to try and inject some width in to the team which did create more chances than the 4222 but the strikers were missing too many chances. What would really have helped City would have been a true goal scoring midfielder such as Frank Lampard or even Eden Hazard who they supposedly wanted in pre-season, to add a different dimension. He had some good ideas but he didn’t implement based on his personnel. He seemed to be forcing his tactical shapes.

Poor transfer market operation This one isn’t Mancini’s fault. He was not given any of the players he targeted in pre-season. He needed the pace and direct threat of Eden Hazard and was given Scott Sinclair. He needed the dynamism and goals of Danielle De Rossi and was given the stogy Javi Garcia. He needed the goals of Robin van Persie and was given nothing. He certainly has spent a lot of money whilst at the club which has counted against him. Signings like Kolarov, Dzeko and Balotelli who have proved anything but value and hamstrung him this year.


The club’s reputation To me, this might well be the key reason. The owners are using Man City to promote Abu Dhabi to the world. Pride and honour are big things in the middle eastern culture. Indulging Mario Balotelli and publicly, and continuously, questioning the owners, as Mancini did, are not what they had in mind. In the end, Mancini didn’t represent that kind of man that they wanted to represent their club.

It is telling that they have turned to the quietly effective Manuel Pellegrini rather than trying to pursue the bombastic Jose Mourinho. They want a manager to respect them, to respect the club and to be successful. They want, in effect, their own Sir Alex Ferguson.

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