Fast-forward exactly one year from that fateful day where Manchester City sealed the Barclays Premier League title in the final minutes against Queens Park Rangers, and the mastermind of that title win Roberto Mancini has been sacked, after a weekend rife with speculation about his future.
The statement, released by Manchester City on Monday, May 13th 2013, specified the “failure to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club”.
Speculation over the weekend of Manchester City’s FA Cup clash with Wigan, asserted that Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini would be taking over from Mancini at the end of the season. Whether this speculation proved to disturb and distract the Manchester City team as they stepped onto the Wembley turf, and proceeded to be thoroughly played off the park by the now Championship bound Wigan, is unknown. But the loss to Roberto Martinez’s side proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the noticeably-exhausted Mancini.
So where did it all go wrong for the man who brought silverware back to the blue side of Manchester?
Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Maicon, Richard Wright, Matija Nastasic, Javi Garcia all arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2012, for a combined total of over £40m. The problem with these additions to the title winning squad of 2011-2012 is that they were quite obviously from Roberto Mancini’s B-list.
So who was on his A-list for what was to be a summer where City “strengthened their position”? Last season’s Player of the Year Robin Van Persie and European prodigy Eden Hazard seemed to be at the top of Shiekh Mansour and co’s wishlist for the close season…
One ended up at Manchester United, the other at Champions of Europe Chelsea. A move for Danielle De Rossi was made, only for the long term Roma servant and midfield general to commit his future emphatically to the club he’d spent his career at.
On the out from City included Adam Johnson and Nigel De Jong; players who were deemed surplus to requirement by Mancini. Their replacements, Sinclair and Garcia though, never came close to filling the berths left by their departures, with the ex-Swansea winger especially struggling to get anywhere near the first-team. Garcia adapted eventually to the Premier League, but showed nowhere near the tenacity and bite that De Jong brought to the City midfield.
In fact, the only addition who managed to make any significant impact this season was the youngest, Matija Nastasic, whose reading of the game and maturity shone through in is debut Premier League season.
The failure to land Hazard, Van Persie and De Rossi among others is surely one of the defining factors in why Manchester City’s 2012-2013 campaign fell so short of the targets that the board set.
It seems that while Manchester City did pip their neighbours to the title and qualify for the bounty that is the Champions League, that the top players still see Manchester City as a lesser prospect than more established powers like United and Chelsea.
Throughout Roberto Mancini’s tenure at the helm of Manchester City, his inability to control the strong egos that littered his assembled squad dogged his term at the club. Numerous clashes with the troubled, but obviously gifted Mario Balotelli were well documented by the national press.
Whilst the Carlos Tevez incident, which was again played out very publicly in the media, brought Mancini’s style of man management to the forefront once more. These spats, incidents, or whatever you want to call them did little to strengthen Mancini’s position at the club.
He was always confrontational in nature and, through this style of management, he made few friends at the club, bar perhaps assistant manager David Platt. The club’s desire seems to create a holistic approach to their football, running through the entire club, seemingly did not include Mancini’s abrasive and confrontational style of coaching.
Whilst delivering Manchester City’s first title in 44 years, his style did not fit with what the upper echelons of the club saw in the future of Manchester City.
Mancini has to take a lot of the blame for the 2012-13 season’s failures and Manchester City’s capitulation in the Premier League, and their collapse in the Champions League.
But the general under performance of the players under his charge must come into some consideration.
David Silva who was the creative force behind City’s free-flowing attacking football last season, has largely failed to re-create the form which saw him run games for City and finish atop of the assists league with 17 for the season.
City captain Vincent Kompany was imperious in their title winning year, and commanded the meanest back-four in the Premier League. While the City defence has still kept the most clean sheets all season, some high-profile mistakes from the skipper has meant that the once watertight City backline has been far more leaky this season.
Whilst England’s number one Joe Hart has made a number of eminent blunders over the year and 2012’s hero Sergio Agüero has been injured for large portions.
In Mancini’s earliest years at Manchester City, his tactics were often criticised as too negative and far too Italian for the Premier League. However, the title winning season saw a far more free-flowing approach to football than earlier efforts. With City’s forward players swapping positions fluidly, interchanging smart passes and creating havoc for opposing defensive lines.
For some reason though, Mancini decided to experiment frequently throughout the 2012-13 season with variations on a 3-5-2 which, at each time of asking, proved to be ineffective and almost alien to the players under his charge.
Whilst in Europe, the use of three defenders and constant switching of systems proved too much for the Manchester City players. City’s performance in Europe was nothing short of abysmal.
The excuse that the group was a strong one, which arguably it was, just didn’t cut it as Mancini’s City side were fundamentally torn apart by Jürgen Klopp’s Borrusia Dortmund.
Mancini had never had huge success in Europe and obviously the board has taken this into account, perhaps feeling that Mancini’s competencies domestically did not outweigh his incompetences on the continent.
Mancini’s reputation has taken a dent from this furore but his CV stands strong, and the Italian will walk into a top job at a European power sooner rather than later. The job at newly-promoted Monaco seeming like a natural progression after the riches of Mansour’s Manchester City.
Whoever comes into the City job, will know that the pressure will be on from the very beginning. The City fanbase are still reeling from the loss of Mancini and, as was seen by their staunch backing of the Italian at Wembley, it will take a while for any new incumbent to turn the City faithful.
But football fans are a fickle bunch, and instant success in the transfer market, a marquee signing and a good early string of results will see whoever lands the Etihad hotseat endear himself to the City faithful quickly.Tweet