Cast your mind back a little less than two years, when Roberto Mancini was unveiled as the new Manchester City manager in December 2009. With the remit of guiding City first into the Champions League, then towards the league title, Mancini had a tough job ahead with the team sat in 6th place. Nevertheless, with the players and funds available to Mancini the goals were certainly achievable.
The appointment seemed shrewd, with the Italian having clear pedigree following his successes at Inter Milan and Lazio. However, with expectations high, City would go on to miss out on the final Champions League spot to Spurs in the 2009/10 season.
A rethink was in order, and Mancini strengthened his squad with the summer signings of David Silva, Yaya Toure, James Milner, Mario Balotelli and Aleksandar Kolarov. While Edin Dzeko would go on to join the club in the January transfer window.
12 games into the season City sat 4th, and following a dour 0-0 draw with rivals Manchester United criticism of Mancini mounted. For a side that had went on such a lavish spending spree, as a team City seemed to distinctly lack in terms of attacking ambition. Although it seems hard to contemplate now, there were even some who argued Mancini could be sacked.
Yet, all the while Mancini remained calm, arguing that his side were consistently improving. Indeed, the 2010/11 season would become a historic one for the Manchester club. In the league Mancini guided the team to a 3rd place finish and the consequential Champions League qualification.
Perhaps even more significantly Mancini lead the club past rivals United in the FA Cup semi finals and to cup final success against Stoke City at Wembley, finally ending the clubs 36 year trophy wait.
The bandwagon for Mancini was well and truly rolling by now, and with the supreme talents of Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri just two of the summer additions, the club was suddenly being talked about as serious title challengers.
Now, in late October, Manchester City sit five points clear at the top of the table following their stunning 6-1 victory over fierce rivals Manchester United. Some will argue that Mancini has thus far achieved the very least that could be expected of any manager in the job given City’s vast resources. On the other hand, many have praised Mancini, the soave Italian coach has moulded City into a free flowing attacking unit that remains defensively responsible.
The player’s commitment to the cause in recent games has been significant. Indeed, it is clear following the Carlos Tevez debacle that Mancini has created a sense that the club is more important than any one player.
City still have a lot to prove, the winter months when the games come thick and fast have proved a stumbling block for countless Premier League contenders. Yet, Mancini, with his famous blue and white club scarf, will be confident the clubs squad depth will be able to see them through.
They may go on to win the title, they may not, either way Mancini should be applauded for the job he has done so far, even if it is far from complete.
For now, Roberto Mancini should enjoy the praise he is receiving, after all it was a little over a year ago that the future was not so bright.
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