A full page ad in the Manchester Evening News thanked the fans of Manchester City for three amazing years in the job.
Bearing the words “three unforgettable years, you will always be in my heart” the show of gratitude was put out by the now former City manager Roberto Mancini.
After having been shown the door by the City owners, the Italian took to the papers to thank the fans in an ad that featured a photo of him along with the three trophies that he won in his time – FA Cup, Premier League and Community Shield – in front of him. It was a nice touch from a manager who has always been known to wear his heart on his sleeve.
Mancini was well-liked by the fans, even on the day of the FA Cup final, numerous banners were seen around Wembley expressing their support for the manager. This was amidst growing rumours that a deal had already been struck with Manuel Pellegrini to take over next term.
City would go on to lose to Wigan Athletic in that final and a couple of days later, Mancini would go on to lose his job. The FA Cup final disappointment to many may have been the final nail in the coffin for Roberto, but contrary to that belief the Italian had dug himself a deep pit out of which there was no getting out.
The official line post Mancini’s sacking talked about the Italian’s failure to “meet objectives” as the reason for his exit. A third place finish in his first season along with the capture of the FA Cup, League champions the next with that dramatic last gasp winner from Sergio Aguero and second this season will tell you that the results on the pitch have been anything but underwhelming.
Mancini though paid the price for a bucket full of other factors that came to be a constant during his tenure at the Etihad.
Squad management & discipline
‘Confrontational’ would be one word that could best be used to describe some of the fiery Italian’s ways during his stint. Numerous incidents, most notably the highly publicized ones with Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli showed the Italian’s man management skills in poor light.
He would come out and openly slander his players in the media and was never reluctant to engage in fisticuffs with his charges. There have also been reports of a fall out with Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure.
The Italian failed to instil a healthy team culture at the club and towards the end of his reign, it was apparent that he had lost the faith of the dressing room. So much so, that after City’s game against Reading last Tuesday, two City players joked that they could not celebrate the event of Mancini’s dismissal as they had a game coming up against the Royals.
Obviously, the Italian’s departure has brought about some joy in sections of the City squad. Balotelli came out to say that he was the least bit shocked that his former manager got the boot.
The tussles didn't end with just the players, the Italian would often come out and pan the management like the innumerable number of times he’s pinned the blame on City’s lacklustre title defence on the work that was done in the summer transfer window.
The saga of how the signings he desired didn't come to fruition became a constant thread of admonishment for Mancini.
Failure to get the best out of his players
The lack of a strong team unity in a group with some very headstrong personalities meant that City came to resemble Real Madrid, a team with a lot of talented individuals who failed to bring it together collectively. When each of these players hit their strides, the team played well, but they failed to do it on a consistent and regular basis.
Last season, City should have been out of sight with the Premier League title instead of putting their fans through the nerve-wracking tension that came their way during the final day fracas.
The Citizens had a much better team than their city rivals and started off the season brilliantly only to stutter towards the end and hand Manchester United the advantage that they in turn ended up surrendering. And this year, the less said about their abysmal title challenge, the better.
The fact is that Man City are a team that’s been put together with plenty of heavy investment – player fees alone have totalled in excess of £200 million – as a result of which they will play well and will always be up there in the Top three, but it is the coaching that has made the difference between just 1 Premier League title and possibly three.
Just imagine for a moment, Manchester City in the hands of Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. With the kind of squad at their disposal, the title may have been well sewn up with daylight in between them and the chasing pack.
Sadly, Mancini hasn't been able to create that sizable gap between City and the other contenders that with the resources available could and should have been done.
Finally, their woes in the UEFA Champions League were always going to come back to haunt Mancini. Two years in a row they have failed to get out of the Group stage.
Of some consideration is the fact that on both occasions they were pitted in the Group of Death, but to not even register a single win is something that a club of the magnitude of Manchester City simply could not accept. And, this wasn't a first; even when at Inter Milan, Mancini received his fair share of criticism as Inter suffered early exits many a time.
Ultimately, by the time that Roberto Mancini received his P45, it was evident that he had lost the confidence of the dressing room as well as that of the Man City hierarchy. Pellegrini, widely tipped to be the next manager, has made it clear that he would not shy away from putting his foot down to quell squad indiscipline.
A failure to address precisely that, sometimes contributing to it even, and the inability to build on City’s success from last year and push them further ahead of their rivals coupled with their continued struggles in European competition made for a heady concoction, one that ultimately forced the powers to be at City to wield the axe and opt for a fresh brew next season.
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