After yet another disastrous European performance by Manchester City in losing to Borussia Dortmund and finishing bottom of their group, there is now very little room for Roberto Mancini for excuses. After being completely eliminated from Europe at this early stage of the season the goal for the rest of the season is now simple.
Manchester City and Mancini simply have to win the Premier League title this season.
They are currently well placed to do so. Hot on the tails of great rivals Manchester United and still unbeaten in the league there is no reason why they should not do so. Now without the distraction of Europe, the extra games and travel, that entails Manchester City have to win the league. If they don’t it will undoubtedly spell the end of Roberto Mancini’s time at the club.
Since his appointment in December 2009 following the sacking of Mark Hughes, the Italian has enjoyed great support from City’s billionaire owners. They have been the complete opposite of the Roman Abramovich style of ownership where they sack a manager every few months.
Their support has generally been well earned by Mancini who has delivered the FA Cup, the Premier League title and the Community shield during his time in charge.
When there have been sticky spells during his time in charge, the general consensus among supporters and pundits alike is that there wasn’t a better manager available to Manchester City and that he should be afforded the time and patience to implement his style.
However, as we approach December, Mancini has been in charge of the club for nearly three years. Whilst they have without doubt been a success, he has also had a great deal of money to spend and if he hadn’t won some silverware, serious questions about his managerial ability would have been asked.
The other serious question mark hanging over Mancini is that he hasn’t really managed to establish any noticeable style or way of playing at the club. Whereas teams like Barcelona and Manchester United have a recognisable way of playing, that is not evident at Manchester City.
They fluctuate one week from being ultra defensive, to putting four or five goals past teams the next week. Some of his recent dealings in the transfer market have left something to be desired. He relentlessly pursued Swansea winger Scott Sinclair and has played him sparingly since.
His continued perseverance with the enigma that is Mario Balotelli has also confounded a lot of Manchester City fans who have long since lost patience with him.
As I alluded to earlier, in previous years the calibre of managers available to replace Mancini have not really been any better than the man himself.
That is no longer the case anymore. Pep Guardiola is currently on his year long sabbatical from football but is already keen to get his future sorted out for next season. He is being linked with pretty much every job in world football at the moment and seemingly has his pick of clubs.
Many people think he will end up at Chelsea but in my opinion he would be far more inclined to take on the challenge of City. There would be much greater job security at City and access to unlimited funds to build the team the way he would like it.
If not Guardiola then how about the "Special One." Not many people can see Jose Mourinho staying at Real Madrid beyond the end of this season and there is no doubt that he would love to lock horns with his great rival and friend Sir Alex Ferguson.
The only way for Mancini to hold onto his job is to retain the Premier League title this season. The FA Cup would not be enough. Mancini has run out of excuses but he hasn’t run out of time just yet.