Roberto Mancini's Future Doesn't Rest on Manchester Derby but Cash Call Is Wrong
The future of Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini appears to have been under the microscope ever since Vincent Kompany lifted the Premier League trophy on the final day of last season following that incredible victory over Queens Park Rangers.
Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler's scream of "Aguero!" was still reverberating around the Etihad Stadium amid claims of a power shift in Manchester on the back of City's first league title in 44 years, when thoughts turned to the former Inter Milan boss.
Mancini had guided City to the highest of highs in domestic football, but the pressure was on now to ensure the team did not lose that momentum.
Who would come in to bolster the squad? How would City fare as England's No. 1 team in the Champions League? How could Mancini extend his team's dominance? The response, however, has been muted.
Jack Rodwell, Matija Nastasic, Maicon, Scott Sinclair and Javi Garcia all arrived before the August deadline for a combined total of around £54 million.
Before a flurry of activity on deadline day, Mancini fell out with City football administrator Brian Marwood (via Daily Mail) over the lack of transfer movement at the club, most notably their failure to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal.
Mancini missed out on a number of key targets such as Eden Hazard, van Persie, Javi Martinez and Daniele de Rossi, but the summer outlay should still have been enough to mount a more vigorous defence of the title and assault on the Champions League than has occurred this season.
The Champions League campaign fell foul of a difficult group with Real Madrid already an established force and Borussia Dortmund a rising entity on the world stage. Even an improving Ajax side would prove to be an awkward proposition for the relative newcomers of City.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson struggled in his opening Champions League ties with United, losing to Galatasaray in 1994 before finishing third in a group which contained the Turkish club, Barcelona and Gothenburg the following year.
The benefit of the doubt should remain on Mancini's side at least for another season, but making calls for further funding smacks of desperation.
The City boss has not been helped by the persistent injury problems of Rodwell, but it has been his decision to leave Sinclair on the bench that has also hurt; only Nastasic could be considered a major success of his paid-for players this season.
Suggestions that a heavy defeat in tomorrow's Manchester derby will dictate Mancini's future (Daily Star Sunday) may have some foundation, but the Italian should be given another year to restore City to title winners.
Compare where City were when Mancini arrived in December 2009; serial underachievers without a trophy to their name since the 1976 League Cup win over Newcastle United. The Italian delivered the FA Cup in his first full season and then capped that with the Premier League 12 months later.
Trophies aside, his last visit to Old Trafford produced an unforgettable afternoon for City fans, who saw City dismantle their fierce rivals with a six-goal flourish. There is enough about City for supporters to continue to chant Mancini's name. The new deal for Yaya Toure this week was crucial while players such as Pablo Zabaleta seem settled.
On his City record alone, Mancini should be handed another opportunity to turn the balance of power against United, but he will need support across the club to succeed.
The City hierarchy have already expressed a desire to maintain their place among football's elite as a long-term project rather than a short-lived endeavour. But Mancini must shoulder some of the blame this season to prove he is the man to progress the club further.
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