Negative Italian Tactics Not To Blame
Clarkey311 sent us the following.
Since the initial success of Mancini's fledgling spell as manager has somewhat dried up, all I have read on message boards and in the media alike are that Mancini plays too much of a defensive system and isn't willing to gamble for the win.
After the recent stalemate against Liverpool however, there is a very good argument that these negative tactics are forced by the squad lacking personal within some key areas.
The common misconception amongst fans of our beloved club is that because Mancini is from an Italian background, he must therefore be renowned for his 'negative Italian tactics', far from it in fact.
At Inter he played some of the most adventurous football in the league and I would point you towards the title he won with a magnificent ninety-seven points scoring eighty goals whilst playing his favoured two holding midfielders in the centre which we have become accustom to.
The problems currently facing Mancini's system is the lack real flair and leadership within the midfield. At Inter he had a mixture Zanetti, Cambiasso and Vieira at his disposal in the centre of midfield, providing both a solid defensive platform and commanding leadership. Ahead of the before mentioned players, Mancini's sides included Stankovic, Figo, Ibrahimovic and Suazo all creative flair players capable of producing pieces of individuals brilliance at any given time as well as combining with each other.
Within our current squad there are isn't a player that could even come close to matching any of the flair players mentioned, bar Robinho who as we have all witnessed isn`t a team player. 'One day I would like to be the number one as well, the best player in the world. That is my aim while I am at Manchester City' - Robinho shortly after signing.
Some would argue that Bellamy could be thrown into the flair bracket, but he really lacks the trickery and vision required, despite the work rate and pace. Given last year's performances, Ireland was looking to have more than enough of the creative traits required for Hughes to comfortably allow Elano to leave, yet hasn't really played anywhere near the level we know he can . Meanwhile Elano being an international starter for Brazil with bags of vision and flair, yet dogged by patchy form, a player whom I believe would have only flourished under Mancini's guidance, much like he did under Sven initially, was allowed to leave cheaply.
Having been appointed so near the start of the transfer window, Mancini didn't have very long to work out what each member within the squad could bring to the team, not to mention a rather large cup tie taking up most of his attention. He did clearly attempt to rectify the two problems with the signing of Vieira (leadership) and Johnson (flair) but this still isn't his squad, I'm sure given the money available in the summer he would of bought very few of the player Hughes did. I'm also under the impression that the owners don't want to throw money at another manager's mercy without them proving they deserve the opportunity.
Currently we are really missing a link between the forwards and the midfield whilst playing Barry and de Jong in the centre, there is a real lack of forward drive. Both are very neat and tidy players and solid enough when it comes to protecting the defence but there is no forward momentum on display, so this falls heavily on the wingers.
Johnson has fulfilled this in every game he has featured in so far with his jinking runs and no fear attitude, however finding someone of equal effectiveness on the other flank has proven to be an upward battle for Mancini. Both Petrov and Wright-Phillips go missing in games far too often, especially against the more competitive teams and Bellamy has had trouble adapting to Mancini's training methods, or more to the point his knee has, despite what the media would like you to believe.
A short term fix which Mancini has used frequently thus far is to play a player behind the striker, however once again the squad is very short in personal able to play this role to a high enough standard. Tevez has been the preferred player so far and has been clearly missed over the last couple fixtures. Ireland took over this role against Liverpool and was completely missing in action; worst of all was the incredible work rate commonly associated with the Irishman had also disappeared much like his confidence.
Another common suggestion amongst fans is to player 4-4-2 with Santa Cruz and Adebayor up top, but once again the link is missing for the most part. Adebayor started his City career with a goal which he instigated by coming deep to get the ball and playing Wright-Phillips into space, since then this aspect of his game seems to have vanished or be in vain as he is often the target man and has no one ahead to link up with. With a fellow target man in Santa Cruz up front, Adebayor should be encouraged to drop deep once again in an attempt to link up play giving us another option rather than an aimless punt up field in his general direction.
Mancini's tactics shouldn't be criticised to the extent they are, they are proven to win things in a league often referred to as most tactical in Europe. Given time and resources Mancini will turn us into a force, remember before Mancini's arrival at Inter they had gone seven years without a trophy and a further sixteen without a league title. Some discredit his achievements at Inter because he had the strongest squad after the Calciopoli scandal, yet if the players aren't managed correctly then ultimately you won't succeed in winning anything, the Real Madrid Galáctico's are the perfect example of this.