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Mancini's Manchester City: The laughing stock of Europe

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Is it Groundhog Day already? Haven’t we seen this movie before? Is there a glitch in the Matrix?

How did Manchester City, the EPL’s reigning champions/supposed contenders for Europe’s biggest prize, crash out of the Champions League? At the group stages, again.

tevez Mancinis Manchester City: The laughing stock of Europe

Were it not for title-holder Chelsea’s more hideous Champions League campaign (and the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo), the Citizens surely would be the talk of town (or Europe for that matter). While the Blues are on the verge of exit, Manchester City are definitely not competing for the trophy with the big ears anymore, perhaps not even the Europa League.

Whereas one feels for Roberto Di Matteo, due to the unspoken decree of getting the very best out of Fernando Torres has probably cost him his job, such sentiment is not shared for Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini. The latter has once again confirmed the suspicion that ghosts around him – he does not belong into the category of Europe’s finest managers.

He’s above an average at best with no room for further improvement. For one to improve, one must learn from their mistakes. Roberto Mancini has not shown that he is capable of learning from past failures.

For every critic there’s at least one advocate who points out the titles he has won with Inter Milan and said Manchester side. Fair enough.

What they fail to mention is that Roberto Mancini ‘won’ Inter Milan’s first titles in decades in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal. Even in retrospect it’s hard to quantify the value of these championships.

Juventus, arguably the strongest Italian at the time, were stripped of their titles and relegated to Italy’s second tier competition, Serie B. Though Zlatan Ibrahimovic switched alliances from Juventus Turin to Inter Milan in the wake of the scandal, he still maintains the position that the Old Lady won their titles on the pitch. It certainly makes it more interesting.

Any championship without a strong Juventus side is a weaker competition. Add to the fact that AC Milan prioritized the Champions League and weren’t necessarily granted the funds to compete with their city rivals; Inter Milan didn’t face any real challenges if not of their own making.

It’s quite obvious that after his club finally clinched the Champions League title in 2009/10 that Inter Milan’s supremo ceased to invest in the side. However, Roberto Mancini was one of the benefactors of a then still generous Massimo Moratti.

Roberto Mancini does okay with the aid of billionaire-backers (at Milan and Manchester), not outstanding but okay. It takes a special (or underwhelming) kind of manager to fail with almost unrestricted transfer funds. Mancini met the bare minimum requirements. No more, no less.

To heave him among the elite of managers would be a stretch. Especially if one considers his quite pathetic record of just two appearances in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. His successor at Inter Milan, Jose Mourinho, won the treble (domestic league, cup plus Champions League) in his second year in charge of the Nerazzuri, while making only slight adjustments to the team he inherited from Mancini.

As a matter of fact, Jose Mourinho has always qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Why comparing Roberto Mancini with Jose Mourinho?

mancini Mancinis Manchester City: The laughing stock of Europe

Both, Manchini and Mourinho, prefer to manage clubs with considerable financial clout.

On a domestic level they have a similar track-record, but it’s Europe where Jose Mourinho truly excels and surpasses Mancini. The bare minimum one can expect from Jose Mourinho in the Champions League (the quarter-finals) is the absolute best Roberto Mancini has ever accomplished. Yes, Roberto Mancini’s record in Europe is abysmal.

The fact that Roberto Mancini still has a job is, quite honestly, puzzling to say the least. Europe’s second most expensive squad (in terms of direct squad investment post-takeover in 2009) has embarrassed themselves in Europe for the second year running.

Manchester City has spent more on new recruits than Borussia Dortmund and Ajax Amsterdam combined but firmly occupy rock bottom of Group D. Furthermore, City has not won a single Champions League game this campaign. Had it not been for dubious penalty calls against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, the Citizens would’ve only accumulated a single point.

Perhaps Sheik Mansour should take a cue from his fellow billionaire and cut his losses early. Three years of Roberto Mancini, north of €400,000,000 in squad investment, and nothing but embarrassment in Europe to show for.

At Chelsea Roman Abramovich has fired more successful managers for less. Jose Mourinho won all domestic titles and lead Chelsea to the Champions League semi-finals, Carlo Ancelotti masterminded the Blues first double and Roberto Di Matteo secured the Champions League trophy in addition to the FA Cup.

Had Roman Abramovich not sacked Roberto Di Matteo, the Italian would’ve competed for the very same titles Roberto Mancini is vying for (in addition to a very slight hope of progressing to the Champions League knock-out stages).

Roberto Di Matteo ‘only’ failed to get the very best out of Fernando Torres, a misfiring striker whose goals would’ve gone a long way in leading the Blues to glory. Chelsea currently has no world-class or in-form strikers. Meanwhile, Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini has three: Edin Dzeko, Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez. Any of the aforementioned strikers would’ve probably saved Di Matteo’s job.

Pampering Fernando Torres is the name of the game in London. Hence, one shouldn’t be surprised to see his compatriot Rafa Benitez take charge of the Blues. Chelea’s hopes of a successfully retaining the Champions League trophy are all but buried at this point.

Only the wildest optimist believes that Rafa Benitez was hired to navigate the Blues to the Champions League knock-out stages. Chelsea is still alive in all competitions but the Champions League. Anything Benitez can do, Di Matteo could’ve done, too.

Indeed, Roberto Mancini is the luckiest manager in football. He has several world-class strikers, accomplishes next to nothing in Europe with the assets at his disposal and still enjoys the trust of his employers.

Roberto Di Matteo was forced to stick with Fernando Torres and it cost him the job.

It’s good to be Mancini.

Comments (38)

  1. Lol what a clown! Go talk about your own club you net hugger

    • I’m glad that I could make you smile. Besides, I do write about Barcelona but usually to criticise them. I don’t do flattery not even for my favorite club.

      • Of course you do, cheap shots are your speciality, wannabe journo’s learn at an early stage that negativity is news.

  2. Manchester City – ‘The laughing stock of Europe’. The reigning champions of England, current league leaders, best goal fifference and best defensive record. Played in arguably the strongest group ever in the champions league two years running. Only someone where FOOTBALL is not their top sport would write such rubbish.

    • Yeah, that’s why they never progresses past the group stages. They’re even behind Ajax Amsterdam – hardly cream of the crop. 3 points is laughable.

      • Nya so there eh Ade, such journalistic prowess!
        No City supporter would suggest that their club’s performance in the CL has been good or even aceptable, that is not the point. The point is that your whole article and particularly the headline is crass and petty.

      • It took Fergi 4 years and a relative fortune at the time to get past the group stages. If man U or Arsenal had been in the same group instead of City they would struggle to get 2 points. No question.

        • think your footie knowledge needs brushing up neil. 1, united were hampered by the 3 foreigner rule. 2, there was only the top side, then the top 2 sides that competed back then, and 3, united had a group with bayern and barca 1 year, and guess what, we actually went on to win it. stick your dummy back in and research next time.
          ps, brilliant article, i could have managed that team and won the league, mancini needs money as he dont have the brains, exposed in europe to be nothing more than a small club

          • 1> Did the 3 foreigner rule only apply to United?
            2. City are in a group with three other champions this year.
            3. Not in your first two Champions League seasons you didn’t.

  3. Alex Ferguson has won the Champs league twice in 26 years at united, with huge slices of luck in both finals, yet he is put on a pedestal by the sycophantic journos. This is nothing more than propaganda. You need to see the back of Mancini before he builds his dynasty, which, as you and I know, he surely will.

    • I guess everbody turns a blind eye at his pathetic record in Europe. Say what you will about SAF but he usually makes it past the group stages and beyond unlike Mancini. I know facing the truth is hard.

    • haha, huge slice of luck, £300 million spent and you cant beat ajax, and had to rely on qpr to know they were safe who then threw the ball straight to you to help u win in injury time,took another teams loss of desire to win u the league, not mancini and mansours millions. mankini will be gone in may when you end up where you normally are, potless. back to being the small club you are

      • Last game of the season, City and United level on points. United played a Sunderland team who were safe for 90 minutes and managed one goal. City played a QPR team who were safe for 90 seconds and managed the same. Worthy champions.

  4. Is it? Have I imagined any stuff I wrote about? No win. Not even against Ajax who only spent 4 million on new transfers. With a squad as deep as City’s something’s got to give. Three points is hideous. Three.

  5. Here’s an excerpt of a recent The Times article “After another failure in Europe with Inter, one Italian journalist wrote of Mancini’s team: Inter find themselves to be quite provincial- that is, only capable of winning in their own back yard” Sounds familiar, right?

    http://blogs.thetimes.co.uk/section/the-game/94132/the-game-blog-citys-champions-league-exit-points-to-holes-in-mancini-game-plan/?shareToken=25331af9cddf95f4df2c64cc4af62b20

    • You should quote the Sun or Star or, better still, the Sunday Sport, they’re more your journalistic level.
      Mind you, most of their writers do understand a bit of English grammar!

  6. Will you call Chelsea a laughing stock if they are the first reigning champions to not make it thru the group stage the following year? That deserves more criticism than a team who are champions league babies.
    BvB have taken three years to make it thru the group stage and have one national titles in that time.

  7. “What they fail to mention is that Roberto Mancini ‘won’ Inter Milan’s first titles in decades in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal.”

    On the contrary, that fact is mentioned all the time, it’s fueled a thousand Mancini knocking pieces. These sorts of articles are ten-a-penny; all it takes is a passing and selective reading of the facts, a natural ability to draw lazy conclusions and a refusal to attempt any real analysis. They crop up every time City fail in any way, shape or form and they’ll crop up again. Next!

  8. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with a cule, but it’s true that Mancini’s titles with Inter all came after Moratti’s orchestrated takedown of Juve and Milan. The UK media continues to parrot claims of “Juve match-fixing” from six years ago, when in fact even a very Inter-friendly tribunal in Napoli last year admitted that without the statute of limitations, which only goes back 5 years in Italy, Inter probably would have been sent down to Serie C2. As it is, Massimo Moratti may yet end up in jail for his part in the TIM wiretapping scandal.

    But having said that, among Italian managers, Mancini is an exception. Italy has exported more successful coaches than any other country, I direct your attention to Luciano Spalletti, Giovanni Trappatoni, Alberto Zaccheroni, Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello, just in the last few years… When was the last time an English coach won anything at all? :/

    • I suppose everybody is fixiated on my headline and not the content of my article. I haven’t insinuated that City are a laughable club nor that Italian managers are incompetent. I have picked a, granted, crass headline but I put Mancini’s name before it.

      The article revolves around Mancini’s shortcomings as manager, not City as an institution. I’ve made a case that City would be far better off without him.

      It’s due to his incompetence as a manager that City find themselves in this situation. Why is everybody failing to acknowledge that? The squad is good enough, the manager isn’t. It’s that simple. Hence, that’s why I brought up Inter Milan. I guess if ‘supporters’ wouldn’t be so defensive they would actually take their time and read before coming to wild conclusions.

  9. last time i checked before mancini came to city they were a mid-table club he came won fa cup the league and etc….. and he’s been there for what 3 years name me others mangers that achieved more then him then mourh,ferry or guado everywhere he’s managed he’s won lol u guys make me lol when u talk bc clearly u don’t know what ur talking about

    • I believe Chelsea under Jose Mourinho accomplished more. The Blues found themselves in an almost identical scenario. But Mourinho led the Blues to two semi-final appearances. Mourinho did a better job than Mancini. If I’m not mistaken, City has actually invested more for player recruitment in their first three years under new ownership than Chelsea under Abramovich. So I’d take that into consideration, too.

      • Chelsea were Premier League runners-up and UEFA Champions League regulars when Mourinho took over. When Mancini arrived at City they hadn’t finished higher than ninth in the league for over 15 years and hadn’t genuinely qualified for any European competition for around thirty years. So not really “an almost identical situation”.

  10. I left a couple of comments here yesterday which have now disappeared. One of them included a comment which may have offended the author, for which I apologise. However, it would have been better if he had engaged with the points I made rather than delete both comments, if that is what happened. But ultimately, if you are going to raise your head above the parapet I think you need to develop a thicker skin. Either that or just keep you head down.

  11. Though I picked a rather stirring headline I somehow assumed that readers could get past the title and read it carefully. However, I learned that some read what they want to read, see what they want to see. I haven’t criticized Manchester City as an institution per se. If anything I have written a criticism on Roberto Mancini NOT Manchester City. Quite honestly, the venom and irrationality of some ‘supporters’ baffles me. Why so defensive?

    • Has anyone accused you of criticising the institution? I certainly read the whole piece, and your other recent anti-Mancini pieces; and on my now deleted comments I criticised them as such. My whole complaint was about your article and the quality of your analysis, such as it exists. I certainly didn’t read this as an anti-City piece, but as an attempt to have a go at Mancini based on a little knowledge and some very simplistic conclusions.

      I fear free speech is not what you think it is. It’s not that you can write what you want and people then applaud how clever you’ve been. Free speech means that you can write what you want and people who disagree with you can write back in argument. I haven’t been defensive, but I have defended Mancini in the face of what I feel is a weak critique based on a poor and selective grasp of the facts.

      • I don’t think I have been selective in regards to Mancini. I went over his all-time record in the Champions League and he only made it to the quarter-finals twice (with Inter Milan). To argue that this Inter Milan team was just not good enough would be ridiculous. Other managers have accomplished more with less. Though I’ll admit that City were somewhat unlucky with their last two Champions League groups, it ultimately doesn’t excuse their performances. No matter how you slice it, being behind Ajax Amsterdam is underwhelming to say the least. Not having won any game is even worse. Roberto Mancini has not proven himself to be a manager of Champions League pedigree. If he was in charge of a say, Everton, I’d accept his shortcomings as the result of not having the necessary players at his disposal. But he is not.
        Roberto Mancini’s Inter Milan featured a good mixture of experienced veterans (Zanetti, Figo) and world-class players approaching their peak (Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Maicon) and he still couldn’t get them past the quarter-finals. Sure, the Champions League plays by its own rules and having that bit of luck is definitely part of that, but how two quarter-finals appearances is weak at best, especially if you don’t face any real adversity domestically. Like I’ve written in my article, any championship without a strong Juventus side is a weaker competition for it. Therefore I cut Mancini a little bit of slack for his endeavors in the EPL. However, he has probably the strongest squad in the league and the best bench in England (if not Europe). Correct me if I’m wrong but no other side can match Manchester City for attackers. Perhaps only Manchester United. But that’s about it. In light of the assets at his disposal – how can I be unfair or selective in my judgment of Roberto Mancini? Do we set the bar lower because Manchester City has won nothing in decades? If that’s so, Chelsea went through the exact same transition phase and did better. They faced an Arsenal side at the peak of their powers in addition to perennial challengers Manchester United. I can’t be selective when Mancini has never even hinted the potential for greatness in the Champions League in his entire career. His City side has not played to their strengths in the competition yet. Isn’t part of the job description to do just that?

        Furthermore, I welcome any kind of criticism – as long as people can leave their emotions out of the equation and not resort to insults. I do value different opinions. Though I will take them into consideration I’ll ultimately have my own view. Therefore I’m inclined to disagree if I don’t share the sentiments on offer. Either way, I don’t respond to insults or perpetual trolling.

        • Here’s why you’re being selective. While you talk about City’s performances you don’t refer to them, merely to the results. There is no attempt to analyse what went on in the two games against Ajax. Did you watch the games, or just read about them and see the highlights? If you did watch them then none of that knowledge found its way into your article.
          For what it’s worth, I went into this Champions League campaign knowing City aren’t as good as Real Madrid. It now turns out Dortmund are better than Real. As such we were always going to struggle to get out of the group and I’ve been realistic about this season. I don’t think there’s much between ourselves and Ajax and we certainly played poorly in our game in Amsterdam and gifted them two sloppy goal at home, but that can happen.
          But your article merely list some facts and draws obvious conclusions. Of course 3 points out of 15 is poor, but that doesn’t make City a bad team or Mancini a bad manager, just not as good as Real or Dortmund. Are Celtic better than Barcelona? Of course not, but looking at this years results you could make that point if you didn’t know what you were talking about.
          Glad you welcome criticism and sorry for any abuse you’ve received. There is indeed no need for it.

          • I’m willing to agree with half of your assessment – Manchester City isn’t a bad team but Mancini is a not a good enough manager for the Citizens. I’m stunned at City because they were one of my favorites for the trophy. I even argued somewhere that they have a better bench than Barcelona. My question would be – if City is about the same level as Ajax. Does that make Frank De Boer a better manager than Mancini considering that he has to operate on a fraction of the funds available to the Italian, or does that make Mancini somewhat incapable of getting the best out of his assets?

  12. Has anyone accused you of criticising the institution? I certainly read the whole piece, and your other recent anti-Mancini pieces; and on my now deleted comments I criticised them as such. My whole complaint was about your article and the quality of your analysis, such as it exists. I certainly didn’t read this as an anti-City piece, but as an attempt to have a go at Mancini based on a little knowledge and some very simplistic conclusions.

    I fear free speech is not what you think it is. It’s not that you can write what you want and people then applaud how clever you’ve been. Free speech means that you can write what you want and people who disagree with you can write back in argument. I haven’t been defensive, but I have defended Mancini in the face of what I feel is a weak critique based on a poor and selective grasp of the facts.

  13. Not sure on what planet City can have been anyone’s favourite for the Champions League. A very strange notion.

    And your comparison of Mancini with De Boer is a perfect example of you faulty thinking. You assume that because Ajax don’t have the spending power of City that De Boer must be the better manager? That is a ridiculously simplistic position to hold, but does explains why you write articles like this based on such shaky logic. Frankly this is all too silly for me to bother with.

    • That explains why you posted so many comments. And, yes, actually I do consider De Boer the better manager. He accomplishes more with a weaker squad. Which is also why I reserve my judgement on Pep Guardiola. As Tito Vilanova is currently proving us – this Barcelona team was built to succeed.