ENGLAND/ MANCHESTER CITY, Mancini bad moment
26.10.2012 11.00 by TM W
Source: The Sun
© foto di Giuseppe Celeste/Image Sport
Sheikh Mansour has spent £1billion at Manchester City — including more than £500million on transfers.
So the Sheikh wasn’t expecting City to crash out of the Champions League at the first stage for the second successive year.
Yes, City landed in a tough group with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund — as they did with Bayern Munich and Napoli last season.
That, though, does not explain how a team of experienced professionals have come up short. Certainly not their woeful display against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday, their fourth defeat in five away Champions League games.
The problem with Mancini is he doesn’t appear to be learning and, at 48 next month, he should be.
If it goes on like this, he shouldn’t be surprised if the owners pull the plug.
His Champions League record at Inter Milan was so poor it got him the sack.
In four attempts, he made it no further than the last eight and twice went out at the round of 16.
Inter even lost to Liverpool home and away at the first knockout stage in 2007-08.
So Europe doesn’t seem to be his thing. Which would be bad enough if it wasn’t now compounded by problems elsewhere.
Once again, Mancini is messing with systems including a zonal marking set-up that came embarrassingly unstuck against Ajax.
It wasn’t just that City have some enormous lumps in defence who should never have been outjumped by Niklas Moisander for Ajax’s second goal.
It’s that Mancini changed a system that had been working so well — just 29 league goals conceded last season and only 12 at home.
Already this season they have let in 22 in 13 and it would have been more but for Joe Hart, especially against Dortmund at the Etihad where only an outstanding display by the England keeper allowed City to escape with a draw.
But some managers feel they must put their stamp on everything. It’s a sort of arrogance. They like to believe that they and their ‘systems’ are responsible for success rather than the players.
And so, as we had seen against Dortmund, Mancini reverted to a three-man defence as soon as City went 2-1 behind in Amsterdam. And this against an Ajax attack with one striker.
The shock on the face of Gael Clichy at being asked to play as one of three central defenders told the tale.
HEAVY INVESTMENT ... Sheikh Mansour
The experiment lasted all of 10 minutes — long enough for City to concede a third when Christian Eriksen’s shot went in off Clichy — before Mancini was forced back to his original four.
With Clichy at right-back!
All this tinkering has left Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany, two of their best players last season, looking shot to bits. Worse, though, was Micah Richards saying City don’t ‘work much’ on a back three — and they don’t like it anyway.
If that was bad enough, suggesting rifts in the camp, what about Mancini’s astonishing admission that he hadn’t prepared his players properly for the match?
That he thought it would be a different game.
It all sounded very unprofessional on an awful night for Mancini and his new defensive coach Angelo Gregucci, who isn’t helped by the fact he speaks little English.
Mancini says this isn’t a problem though events would suggest otherwise. In the long term, the Italian is looking to Serbian teenager Matija Nastasic to provide the sort of distribution from the back he claims City need.
But is there a ‘long term’ for Mancini? At the start of the season, he said his priority was to retain the title (one he was handed on a plate by Manchester United).
The money men, though, have higher ambitions.
They will have seen the huge kudos that came Chelsea’s way from winning the Champions League even though they finished only sixth in the Premier League.
If, as seems inevitable, City again fail to get out of the group stage then the powers that be will be looking for someone with greater potential to give them what they want.
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