Has Mancini found the ‘striking balance’ at Man City?

Robinho has launched a scathing attack on Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini for not giving him the freedom to display his talents on the pitch. The Brazilian winger, who joined City for a British record £32.5 million 18 months ago, has found himself on the bench this season and has been shipped off to Brazilian club Santos on loan.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Robinho said:

“He has a different way of thinking. In Brazil, the coach respects the player’s characteristics.

In Europe, they are used to playing with two lines of four players and they don’t want to know what you can do.”

Does the Brazilian have a point? Does Mancini need sort his tactics out at City to find a way for the £129 million worth of attacking talent at his disposal to co-exist with each other?

Since Mancini’s first game in charge against Stoke on Boxing Day, City have won 5 out of 7 Premiership games, losing to Hull and Everton in that time. However, City have had an easy run of games since the Italian took over; winning against the likes of Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves, Stoke and Portsmouth. In the big games though, City and Mancini have faltered, getting dumped out of the Carling Cup by bitter rivals Manchester United, which was a hard pill to swallow for City fans. Emmanuel Adebayor has been absent for much of January because of the Togo shootings, so Mancini has used Tevez accompanied by either Bellamy, Robinho or Santa Cruz in the City attack.

Under Mancini, Carlos Tevez has provided the bulk of City’s scoring, finding the net six times since the Italian took over and scoring 18 goals in all competitions this season. Adebayor has scored 8 times and Bellamy and Santa Cruz have contributed 6 and 3 goals respectively this season. Throughout the season, Mancini and his predecessor Mark Hughes have preferred to use Adebayor and Tevez up front, with Bellamy starting on the left wing.

Mancini has shipped the rest of the strikers out on loan because they can’t break into the first team at Eastlands – with Jo, Felipe Caicedo, Robinho, Benjani and Valeri Bojinov plying their trade elsewhere for the time being. But is this a wise move to leave only four strikers at Eastlands: especially considering that Santa Cruz seems to be a permanent injury risk?

For all the talent at City and the money they have spent, what is a good enough return for that investment? City are currently 5th place and are fighting Liverpool, Aston Villa and Spurs for that elusive final Champions League spot. There is no doubt that Tevez, Adebayor and Bellamy are top quality players but the question is whether they can guarantee City a top four finish in the league this year. If not, then maybe Mancini will be the one who is sent packing, just like Mark Hughes’ did back in December.

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomjinks