Manchester City: Roberto Mancini's Days Could Be Numbered at the Etihad

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer INovember 8, 2012

When Roberto Mancini took over the Manchester City managerial position almost three years ago, he was thrust into one of the toughest positions in football.

Since that time, the Italian skipper has brought Man City to the promised land.

City won the 2011 FA Cup, ending a 34-year trophy-less drought in the process. They also won the Premier League last season, thanks to an historic comeback in the final minutes of stoppage time against Queens Park Rangers.

Unfortunately for Mancini and his club, the jubilation that existed over the past two seasons has not carried over into the current campaign. City's results in both England and Europe have been disappointing through the first three months of the young campaign.

This normally would not be too concerning for most sides, but Manchester City have large expectations, which have been hurt from the start of the campaign.

After securing 28 points in their first ten matches last year (during which they were on top of the EPL table), City have 22 points this year and are currently in third place.

City have scored 50 percent fewer goals so far this season when compared to last year. Joe Hart has only three clean sheets through his first ten EPL matches. Hart had a league-leading 17 clean sheets last year. The poor start City have suffered in England pails in comparison to their weak performance in Europe.

Through their first four matches, City have pulled out just two points from four matches in the "Group of Death." Despite a performance on Matchday Four that should have resulted in a win against Ajax, City have been disappointing in the competition.

On Matchday One, Real Madrid overtook City late, thanks to a late Cristiano Ronaldo winner. City's second match saw a last-minute Mario Balotelli penalty, rescue the club from a home loss to German champion Borussia Dortmund.

Matchday Three was filled with more disappointment following a 3-1 loss at Ajax.

Before their 2-2 draw in Matchday Four against Ajax, Mancini made an unexpected announcement when he claimed "I don't think we [Manchester City] are ready to win the Champions League."

Mancini's statements are not false considering how poor the club has performed over the past two years in Europe, but they are still mystifying. Managers almost never announce to the public that they think their club will fail to accomplish a target, especially when they manage a club with the wealth and resources that City possesses.

Outside of a "weak" start, Mancini has other problems that he has to deal with.

The main reason why Mancini and the rest of this City squad have struggled so far is due to an injury crisis. Players like Joleon Lescott, Maicon, James Milner, Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell and David Silva are all currently out for the club with various ailments.

Out of the current players on the squad, Mancini has several prima donnas that he has to deal with on this squad, namely Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez. Both players have been distractions on and off the pitch for the Italian manager.

It is no wonder that Mancini was listening to job offers last year, namely one that linked him to Ligue Two side AS Monaco. Since that story broke, Mancini has not distanced himself from a move to the club, using the five year contract that he signed with City as his justification for why he was staying with the club.

Five year contracts would normally be a strong reason for a manager staying in place. However, the ownership group at Man City has previously shown that they do not mind ripping up a manager's contract to hire a new manager.

They did it in 2009 when they brought in Mancini for Mark Hughes.

After spending over £125 million on new players in the summer of 2009, the Blues won just two of their last 11 matches under the Welshman. City then went behind Hughes' back to hire Mancini, doing it shortly after a 4-3 win.

At the time of Mancini's arrival, City were sitting in sixth place at the time, with more draws than any other EPL club. Their goal of reaching the Champions League appeared to be done thanks to that poor start.

Mancini did get City to fifth place that season and was able to hold onto his job. Yet in the two-plus years since that season, Mancini's job status has not been stable.


In 2011, when there were rumors that he could be sacked, Mancini said that it would be "crazy" if he were let go. There were rumors this past spring that Mancini would be forced out if he failed to win the league.

In both cases, Mancini did not get sacked due in large part to the trophies he won during both years with City. There is a good chance that would have changed if silverware was not won.

Unless Mancini breaks the slow steak that City have suffered through and get the club back to the strong form that won them the league last year, he will get the sack.

Although City are just two points behind Manchester United for the top spot in the league, their upcoming fixtures will indicate where they will finish this season.

From now until Dec. 15, the opponents that City will face include Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Everton, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and Newcastle United.

If City are able to at the very least qualify for the round of 32 in the Europa League and are within three points of the top of the EPL table, Mancini's job should be safe. If not, he will probably get the sack.


Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan


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