Manchester City have fired manager Roberto Mancini after failing to successfully defend the Premier League title and being shocked in the FA Cup final by Wigan Athletic.
The club confirmed the move in a statement on the team website:
Despite everyone’s best efforts, the Club has failed to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League. This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the Club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013/14 season and beyond.
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “Roberto’s record speaks for itself and he has the respect and gratitude of Sheikh Mansour, myself and the Board for all of his hard work and commitment over the last three and a half years. He has clearly also secured the love and respect of our fans. He has done as he promised and delivered silverware and success, breaking the Club’s 35-year trophy drought and securing the title in 2012. I would like to personally and publicly thank him for his dedication to the progress that he has overseen and for his support and continued friendship."
Assistant Manager Brian Kidd will take interim responsibility for the remaining two games of the season and the post-season tour to the United States.
City entered the season with sky-high expectations. Given the amount of talent on the squad and last season's success, they were thought to be one of the best clubs in Europe. They didn't live up to that top billing and exit the campaign with the Community Shield as their biggest prize.
The move comes after the club suffered a brutal run of Champions League form earlier in the campaign. City didn't win a single match and finished in the Group D basement. It was the complete opposite of what supporters expected after entering as one of the favorites.
Some of City's struggles in the marquee tournament can be attributed to an incredibly difficult group, which also featured finalist Borussia Dortmund, Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid and Dutch champion AFC Ajax. But City needed to do better.
Also, Mancini was involved in an incident on the training ground with former City striker Mario Balotelli. Mark Ogden of The Telegraph reports the boss believes the incident was blown out of proportion, but it captured a lot of headlines early in the new year.
"No, I did nothing." Mancini said. "I wanted Mario to leave the pitch, Mario said, ‘no I don’t want to’. The photo is worse than what happened. I know it is unusual for a manager to do this but I’m not regretful. The problem we have is that it happened on the only pitch here where we don’t have a screen, but we’re happy for the paparazzi if they earn money from this."
Of course, Balotelli was then gone by the end of January, as a transfer sent him to AC Milan. City was never able to replace the scoring depth he provided during the title-winning campaign. It's an issue the new manager will be forced to deal with.
The decision brings an end to Mancini's nearly four-year run as the club's manager. The side won more than 60 percent of league matches (via PremierLeague.com) under his guidance, but that wasn't enough to save his job.
He previously managed Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter Milan. Now that City has let him go, it's probably only a matter of time before he starts getting linked to other jobs around Europe.
As for City, the search for Mancini's replacement will now begin in earnest, if it hasn't already behind the scenes. The club has been linked to Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini, but he has denied those reports, per ESPN. Given the club's success in recent years, it should be an easy sell to interested managers, but finding one who can handle the intense pressure won't be easy.
Mancini deserves praise for what he accomplished at Etihad Stadium. That said, it's a job based on what you've done lately, and City judged he hadn't done enough to stay.
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