Saturday’s defeat to Everton all but ended Manchester City’s title challenge for this season. The Champions have fallen far behind their local rivals Manchester United, and such was the laboured way his team played a Toffees team that was down to ten men for the final half hour, it was probably a good decision for Roberto Mancini to miss out on the post match press conference.
The Citizens will look to secure a second place finish in the league and hope they can win the FA Cup, with a semi-final tie against the winners of the Manchester United – Chelsea replay and then the winners of Wigan – Millwall their only challengers.
In the grand scheme of football that is no failure, but for City and the hundreds of millions the owners have splashed out, anything short of a Premier League or European title is unacceptable.
City had a lot of catching up to do when the billionaire Sheikh Mansour took charge, off the pitch as well as on it. Recently, City have concentrated on improving both the boardroom and the infrastructure of the club.
Now they have former Barcelona duo Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain in the boardroom and the new training ground adjacent to the Etihad is in the pipeline they can focus more on the players and coaches.
Perennial headline maker Mario Balotelli was offloaded to AC Milan, Kolo Toure’s contract is set to expire this summer, while Carlos Tevez’s deal which runs out next summer does not look like being renewed. Joleon Lescott has been linked with a cut-price £4 million transfer out of City, in an effort to remove his wages from the club’s bill.
It is not just players who are set for the chop. Rumour has swirled around the future of manager Roberto Mancini, with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini linked with the Etihad hot seat. City’s calamitous Champions League campaign has hardly helped Mancini.
Given that there are also question marks over so many players that Mancini signed – Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko, Aleksander Kolarov, as well as those already mentioned – and that some signings such as Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Javi Garcia have failed to prove themselves to be of the required level, it is no wonder the Italian’s future is in doubt.
The resources Mansour has provided Mancini inevitably brings pressure, and while Mancini has laid blame for the failure to sign players like Robin van Persie at the door of Brian Marwood and other directors, it does not excuse the ex- Internazionale manager from not getting the best from the players he has signed.
Balotelli has scored seven goals in six games for Milan, proving his quality, while City will inevitably make huge losses on any players they sell. Young players struggle to break through the ranks, and there appears to be no long-term thinking from the manager’s point of view.
If City are to find long-term sustainability while also competing both at home and abroad, they need long term planning from boardroom down. The transfer policy needs to be sharpened up, the millions they spend on the youth academy needs to show some reward and there needs to be a feeling of control form the dugout.
Roberto Mancini has not shown he is up to the job and his volatile management style does not appear conducive to a focused, determined environment.
Changes have been made at the top end of the club, now they need to find balance further down. The right manager will be key, and Mancini is not that man.
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