I’m not particularly keen on the idea that a manager has an expiration date, especially if he’s currently in the top three of the Premier League with the league trophy sitting in a cabinet draped in his team’s colours. If he’s on the end of 5-1 thrashing, get over it and move on. If he fails to negotiate his way out of the Champions League’s “group of death” then congratulate the other participants; they couldn’t have been that bad if that famously tired cliché was brought up.
But Roberto Mancini has known for a long time what he wanted from this season, regardless of how sluggishly his team may have started—and that says something about their performances last season. You get the feeling that alongside all the premature hype surrounding an attack on the European cup—lets not forget that there are some decent teams on the continent—Mancini had a set of transfer targets drawn up and pocketed immediately after Sergio Aguero’s goal last May.
Robin van Persie was at the top of the list, Danielle De Rossi wasn’t far behind, and surely there was something to light a little more fire than Scott Sinclair. Mancini has every right to feel undermined at City. Certainly not by the fans, it should be noted, but definitely from members of the squad and backroom staff.
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Maybe there’s an idea that Mancini should be pushing on and doing a lot more with what he has at his disposal, and maybe that was part of Brain Marwood’s thinking. The upside is that there is no obvious pressure from within for the manager to create a wave of success without the hard work first. If the owners aren’t aware of the functions of sports and the strength in England and Europe, then that’s their problem. Fortunately, and away from all the extravagant spending, the City owner and those with the highest seats of power do have principles on the matter of respect for their manager.
Mario Balotelli may be one of the most gifted forwards in Europe, but Mancini would do well to ship him off and bring in someone with a good head on their shoulders. Who would really miss him? The headline writers? I’m struggling to think of any other group of people. Manchester City are not in a position where their best players leave and cannot be replaced due to lack of funds or lack of ambition. If the Balotelli ship sails then he’ll be forgotten and replaced by a new hero.
The Italian striker may have a winning mentality, but to outsiders he’s slapping his manager a few times round the head and finding some level of sympathy from those who question why he isn’t in the squad for a high-profile game. Excuse Mancini for dropping the axe, excuse City for having options.
Javi Garcia is a good player, but he’s not what the manager asked for. If the results aren’t looking as fantastic as last season, give it a moment, let the manager find his bearings with what he has and then decide. However, I do believe his response to Joe Hart following the loss in the Bernabeu was misplaced.
If Mancini does move on at some point in the near future then it won’t be because of the increased pay package somewhere else. The manager has been given a set of targets but seemingly little in the way of backing to achieve those aims and ambitions by ‘enemies‘ in-house. He’s come out on top of the Carlos Tevez saga, has continued to put up with Balotelli, but has also set the bar very high with his successes at the club.
Should he be under threat? Perhaps, if that’s the view given to the manager currently sitting second in the league table. Is he undermined? Yes, but for reasons unfitting of the winning squad he’s helped to set up at the Etihad stadium.