Roberto Mancini won a Premier League title and won the hearts of supporters at Manchester City. However, as this season has worn on with Mancini’s replacement Manuel Pellegrini winning plaudits from fans and media, the narrative about the Italian has changed rapidly. From sympathy for the former manager, many supporters feelings have turned towards blaming Mancini for squad harmony issues, tactical errors and forcing a team with a huge wage budget to play negative and largely unattractive soccer during his tenure when compared to the open style of Pellegrini.
In fairness, Mancini’s reputation as a defensive manager allowed critics to easily define him. Plus the presence of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli in his Blues sides made for a circus-like atmosphere and harmonious relations through the squad highly unlikely. But for whatever reason, many supporters of the club have now put the Mancini years, which included both a Premier League title and FA Cup triumph, firmly in the rear view mirror as the club moves into a new, potentially more lucrative era. And yesterday’s convincing 9-0 aggregate win against West Ham United to make it into the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley just adds to the Pellegrini love-in.
Mancini, currently the manager at Galatasaray, spoke to the BBC World Service where he defended his legacy and claimed credit for the current success of Manchester City:
“The players that score the goals are players that I bought – Sergio Agüero, Edin Dzeko, Yaya Touré, David Silva and Samir Nasri. I’m very happy about what I did in Manchester, I love the Manchester City supporters and I had a fantastic experience.
“After four or five years, maybe the manager needs to change the team. I did my job, I built a fantastic team, we played fantastic football and we didn’t win last year only because Manchester United bought Robin van Persie. He was the difference, if not I think that would have changed the history in Manchester over the last three years. We played really good football and now they are continuing to do this.”
Mancini, once again, brought up the subject of Manchester City’s failed attempt to sign Robin van Persie. Last season, when things went badly for his Manchester City team, his simple narrative revolved around the failure of the management team above him to lure Van Persie away from Arsenal. Complicating matters for Mancini was that the Blues summer 2012 transfers by and large fell flat during the 2012-13 season and as things began to go badly for the club, those failed signings became a bigger issue.
In the Italian manager’s final season, four of the five summer signings failed to make a significant contribution and when the January window opened and Manchester City were still within striking distance of Manchester United, management gave Mancini no money to spend.
It seems in retrospect that the Blues unwillingness to engage in the transfer market last January meant at that time that Mancini’s days were numbered even as reigning champions. Mario Balotelli was sold to Milan in the window without any attempt to buy a replacement, even though at the time the Blues were still at least in theory trying to hunt down two domestic trophies.
The tenure of Pellegrini has thus far been positive not only from a results standpoint but from the vibes created in and around the club. It has taken on a decidedly different feel than most of Mancini’s time including his title-winning season, which was largely marred by the spat between manager and Carlos Tevez.
Legacies are important things for football managers and Mancini has every right to protect and promote his legacy as a title-winning manager in Manchester. He just should not be surprised if many don’t buy what he is selling, at least at this point in time.
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