During the history of the Premier League, there have been many famous moments where managers have lost the plot when under severe pressure, and have hit out at rival players and managers. There was of course Kevin Keegan’s “I would love it…” interview, and more recently, Rafa Benitez was at pains to point out some “FACTS” about Manchester United.
However, this week’s feud started by Manchester City boss, Roberto Mancini, with the white half of North London is one of the strangest episodes in recent times.
Mancini’s claim is that without Gareth Bale, Tottenham would be half the side they currently are – a strange statement to say the least. Whilst Bale has put in several high-class performances in a Tottenham shirt over the last twelve months, the main reason for Spurs’ continued success is their ability to rotate their squad, with quality replacements in every position.
The Welshman has excelled this season, however his displays have mainly been in European fixtures – the consistent week in, week out Premier League performances have come from other players – particularly earlier on in the campaign. Rafael Van der Vaart has been a revelation, and the creativity of Luka Modric has been a joy to behold. The scary thing for Mancini is, that could Bale find a greater level of consistency in his league performances, the Lilywhites could be even stronger domestically.
Were Mancini to locate a realistic weak point, he may have looked at the obsession with bringing a 35 year old David Beckham to White Hart Lane, or the poor fitness record of the Tottenham back line, but his attack on Tottenham’s squad depth is laughable, particularly looking at the resources available at Chelsea and Liverpool.
Mancini’s comments are sure to rile Tottenham fans all over the country, but why do it? Bearing in mind it was this exact Spurs side that forced Manchester City out of the Champions League spots at the end of last season, the Italian tactician is making a rod for his own back should his team slip up in the coming months.
A bigger concern for the former Inter Milan boss is that his own players have caused enough difficulty over the last few weeks. From Carlos Tevez’s insistence that he would never play for the club again, to training ground bust-ups amongst his expensively assembled squad, you would have thought the Italian would have used the time away from the spotlight to quietly strengthen his hand rather than get involved in a needless squabble.
Throughout the course of a season there are inevitable verbal jousts between rival managers, particularly as we move towards the business end of the campaign. Mancini’s comments may be simply washed over in the coming weeks as the battle for Champions League qualification takes its most significant turn, however if his remarks result in a dramatic backlash when the two sides meet in a couple of months time he will only have himself to blame.