In Defence Of Roberto Mancini
The sheer scale of anti-MCFC sentiment has been unprecedented since City's pathetic defeat at Southampton. Time to circle the wagons, Blues...
By way of stark contrast, the season long increasing arslikhan engulfing Sir Alex Ferguson and The Stretfords has been stunning. Take the rags battering at Real Madrid this week. Madrid made 29 shots on goal to City's 8 in their last gasp 3-2 Champions League win last September. The Blues were subsequently pilloried by the English media. Fast forward to the New York Floaters 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu where they were on the receiving end of 29 shots themselves, making only 10 of their own, yet having scraped through without defeat, the hacks and learned pundits pour forward to drool at the court of The Red Nosed Knight. BBC blogs reading like a "United We Issue" love in appear to have declared open season on MCFC.
Much of the fawning is press conference related. Dare to be different towards Manchester united verbally or in print and a swamp press ban will swiftly follow. Just ask The Guardian's Daniel Taylor. Yet old habits do die hard. Having bossed English football for decades as the flagship of the erstwhile 'Big Four' who this past week made more desperate attempts to return to the old status quo, the rags have made many friends across the media worldwide. Sergio Aguero's denial of a legion of already penned 'we told you so' headlines finally led to this week's outpouring of City bashing that we would have copped for last May. Some of the copy dished out by The Independent's James Lawton was nothing short of disgracefully biased. MUEN Sports Editor Peter Spencer's motives are again in question. BBC Pundit Danny "Moonchester" Mills has an openly anti-City agenda.
Chief target is dapper City gaffer Roberto Mancini and either the calling for his head or foaming prediction that his head will roll. How Taggart's accolytes would love to see him fall, let alone Liam Gallagher's 'Stretford Bin Man' himself. This is where everyone connected with Manchester City needs to particularly take note.
In January last year Ferguson referred to Mancini as 'a manager of absolute authority.' He summed up Mancio's handling of Tevezgate as having 'distinguished him in managerial terms.' Rewind a further couple of months for deeper analysis and Dan Taylor's article "Roberto Mancini is Manchester City's very own Sir Alex Ferguson":
'The most revealing moment occurred at Ferguson's 25th anniversary celebration dinner in November, 11 days after what is known now in Manchester as simply 'the 6-1.' An interviewer asked Ferguson if he knew how many City managers there had been during his quarter of a century in the job. He shook his head. 'Fourteen,' came the answer. Ferguson didn't hesitate. 'Well, I wish it was 15.'
Let these facts sink in for a moment, Planet Blue. Why on earth would any of us want to give the 71 year old uber-rag another gift following what is a close to nailed on title win this Spring? For anyone to suggest that Taggart's begrudging admiration of Mancini is one of his mythical mind games designed to keep him in place would be foolish in the extreme.
Putting aside the clear and present threat that Mancini's ability to fuse and handle a squad full of top international players has presented to a shell-shocked rag empire and beyond, what does, or doesn't the straight talking Italian still bring to Manchester City?
Any fan can bemoan a manager's tactics to the 'nth degree. Taggart has been on the receiving end of supporter criticism repeatedly since His Highness Sheikh Mansour came to town and the stakes were raised into the stratosphere. Many Blues played hell over Mancio's failed strategies at Southampton. Yet Taggart went down at The Dell 6-3 in 1996 and lost 5-0 at Newcastle a week earlier. He won the league that season and a fair few more after that...Er, albeit in the time when the rags ruled the transfer market unopposed...Last season he won absolutely nothing, enduring Champions League humiliation and defeats to Wigan and Crystal Palace along the way. You won't find many hacks pointing out that it took Taggart years of Champions League struggle before registering success, either. Ok, maybe Das Daily Mail's erudite Martin Samuel but that's about it.
I digress. In point of fact, ultimately Mancio couldn't make tackles and press opponents for the men who let himself and a terrific travelling support down so badly on the south coast last weekend. A majority team collective should have been ashamed of themselves. They owe their boss and those fans big time. Dare I extend that out to suggest some players think they had arrived last summer and could 'ease back on the stick' for this campaign?
Then there is of course the tools available. There is no doubt whatsoever that the last minute raft of signings that City made last August were not the men The Blues boss advised the club's hierarchy were required to further strengthen a championship winning side standing on top of the domestic game and ready to kick on in Europe. Again, it would be nonsense to deny that the squad has effectively stood still. Now this could suggest naivety on the part of City's ownership with perhaps both eyes on imminent Financial Fair Play restrictions, but for the purpose of this article, that's another story.
A third factor that has gone against Mancio is rank bad luck. Two brutal Champions League group of death draws that had many Blues with good reason beginning to cast a wary eye at serial City critic UEFA President Michel Platini and a possible cloak of conspiracy. Nobody can say City have enjoyed generous Premier League fixture print outs, either.
Furthermore, throughout the season a sustained injury list frequented by key players has done nothing to give the manager of a top side the options and flexibility required to compete on all fronts. Sure, there's been the lack of goals too following the high standards the City squad have previously set. Yet Pablo Zabaleta's header crashing off the bar at Loftus Road a fortnight ago serves as a symbolic reminder of the amount of times this season that The Blues would have undoubtedly gone on to win rather than draw had that effort gone in.
Mancini is renowned for his stand offish relationship with his squad and was quoted previously by one City official as being 'The hardest bastard you'll ever meet.' Should this go against him? Cross-city walls parellels can be drawn again, forever the yardstick for our club in recent years. Taggart isn't the most lovable man-manager either.
What Mancini has in spades above every other current top ten manager in England outside of Swansea's Michael Laudrup is a long and distinguished playing career that has taken him to the highest level. He has added to that at the relatively young age of 48 years old a vast management curriculum vitae which has won numerous high profile trophies and suffered some of football's cruel lessons besides. What bollocks it is for any hack to suggest he was handed last season's Premier League title on a silver platter. In spite of that repeated old chestnut, Mancini has garnered with a management team steeped in footballing history and success, lorry loads of crucial Premier League experience. That's exemplified in how The Blues manager and his coaches have become well versed at fending off the type of questions that hacks such as Sky's press conference dominating, droaning James Cooper would never dare ask Lord Taggart.
Above all else, Manchester City Football Club needs stability. 'Where were you when you were shit?!' shriek the likes of the Stoke faithful. Watching our club make mistake after mistake, most notably over team leadership, very often in panic mode is the answer.
This might well be a more instant society than anything we've known as City fans but sacking Roberto Mancini this year could risk eclipsing those long gone mistakes and consigning a mountain of hard work to a need to start all over again. The upheaval doesn't bear thinking about. Don't believe the hype and don't even consider pulling the trigger, Khaldoon.
Siege mentality. This is the time to really get behind our boss, and that starts with Leeds.
ROBERTO MANCINI CITY FACT FILE:
Appointed: 20 Dec, 2009
Results: Games 177, Won 103, Drawn 37, Lost 37
Honours: FA Cup 2011, Premier League 2012, FA Community Shield 2012.
all times East Manchester
Su 17Feb 14h00 Leeds United, The Etihad, FAC5
Su 24Feb 13h30 Chelsea, The Etihad, PL
Mo 04Mar 20h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park, PL
Sa 09Mar 15h00 Wigan, The Etihad, PL
Sa 16Mar 12h45 Everton, Goodison Park, PL
Sa 30Mar 15h00 Newcastle, The Etihad, PL
Mo 08Apr 20h00 The Rags, The Swamp, PL
Mo 15 Apr 20h00 West Brom, The Etihad, PL
Su 21 Apr 13h30 Spurs, White Hart Lane, PL
Sa 27 Apr 12h45 West Ham United, The Etihad, PL
Sa 04 May 15h00 Swansea, The Liberty Stadium, PL
Su 12 May 15h00 Reading, The Madejski Stadium, PL
Su 19 May 16h00 Norwich City, The Etihad, PL