Manchester City: Managerial Absurdity at Rival Chelsea Eases Pain of Lost Season
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In a quiet moment, Roberto Mancini might admit that the troubles this season at Chelsea Football Club may end up being his saving grace.
City's disappointments in this aborted defense of the Premier League title have been many.
The Sky Blues failed to survive group play in the Champions League for the second-consecutive season. They whiffed on Robin van Persie during the summer transfer window, only to see him go on to lead Manchester United to what looks like a stroll to the league title.
There have been other less splashy troubles.
Samir Nasri has underperformed to the point that City appears ready to sell him for whatever they can get (per the Express).
Edin Dzeko leads the team in goals, so of course he wants to leave (per the Mirror).
Despite all of it, City can say one thing: compared to the disjointed doings at Chelsea, the situation at the Etihad is cozier than one of Mancini's dapper scarves.
Andres Villas-Boas began the 2011-2012 campaign at the reins at Stamford Bridge. He struggled mightily and was deposed in favor of Roberto Di Matteo on an "interim" basis in March of 2012.
When Di Matteo took over, Chelsea's position in the Premier League table was so tenuous that the club's only realistic avenue to qualify for Champions League play this season was to win last year's Champions League title, which they did.
That unlikely glory convinced Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to take the "interim" tag off Di Matteo. Ultimately, though, Abramovich and votes of confidence will never live in harmony.
Everyone Abramovich hires to manage Chelsea is keeping the seat warm, very temporarily, for someone else.
Di Matteo was relieved of his duties earlier this season in favor of Rafa Benitez, a man who brought with him to the Bridge a train car full of baggage (given his prior antagonism of Blues fans).
How has it gone for Rafa? Let's hear what he has to say.
Benitez recently told BBC Radio 5 Live (h/t Goal): "They [Chelsea] gave me the title of interim manager. That was a massive mistake. Why did they need to do that?"
After a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Benitez responded to taunts he heard from traveling Chelsea fans with this beauty: "They don't have to worry about me - I leave at the end of the season."
That was after a win.
The turmoil at Chelsea is further proof that the new man always seems like a good idea from the owner's box or the stands. But miraculous transformations like the one Di Matteo orchestrated at Stamford Bridge last year are the decided exception to the rule.
Far more often, rash, in-season managerial changes just lead to more time spent in transition and more mediocre (or worse) results. Even in a down season, City has the inside track for second place in the league and a significant chance to reclaim the FA Cup.
City fans should be grateful that the club's ownership has enough faith in Mancini to allow the (for now) defending Premier League champion manager to maintain a steady hand on the controls.
Because it has taken some special kind of craziness from Chelsea's management to run their season so comprehensively into the ground.
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