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Mancini must reassert authority

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Phil McNulty | 14:35 UK time, Monday, 1 November 2010

When Roberto Mancini casts off his black overcoat, things must be bad. When the Italian's trademark sky blue and white scarf goes the same way, it almost signals a crisis.

Mancini and Manchester City may not be at the tipping point just yet but the manager's impromptu striptease during the defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers was a public sign of the stresses and strains pulling on everyone at Eastlands.

City were touted as genuine Premier League title contenders after overpowering Chelsea recently but defeats against Arsenal and, far more worryingly because of the circumstances, Wolves have opened up cracks in the facade.

Mark Hughes was sacked last season for, as chief executive Garry Cook so memorably put it, a dipping "trajectory of results", so Mancini needs to repair the damage swiftly.

The fixture list has not made Mancini's task any easier, with a trip to surprise package West Bromwich Albion at the weekend before what could be a defining derby meeting with Manchester United at Eastlands the following Wednesday.

Mancini appears to be the main target for the flak, with inevitable suggestions that he has lost control of a dressing room full of lavishly rewarded players, some with too much time on their hands because of his rotation policy.

He has issued words of censure to some of his players - including England trio Joe Hart, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson - for being captured drinking on camera in Scotland on a day off. Emmanuel Adebayor, in a rare outbreak of passion, fell out with Vincent Kompany at Molineux, while Yaya Toure and James Milner were understood to have had a disagreement at the interval during the loss to Arsenal.

mancini595pa.jpgMancini's side were humbled by Wolves. Photo: PA

Throw in Roque Santa Cruz, who, in one of his few headline-grabbing moments since joining City from Blackburn for £18m, suggested the talismanic Carlos Tevez was homesick for his native Argentina, and the headaches are piling up for Mancini.

Tevez, whose own form since arriving from Manchester United has made him an Eastlands untouchable, has also had his moments with Mancini, such as their row at half-time during the 2-1 win against Newcastle United.

And yet City have hardly been a lost cause this season, with time still for Mancini to recover the situation. I have watched them in the flesh twice and they have been impressive on both occasions, beating Liverpool and, more significantly, Chelsea.

As always with Manchester City, however, there is a dark side to this great and hospitable club, which seems to lurch almost predictably towards the precipice.

There is talent in the camp but it is also accompanied by an undoubted sense of unrest - and without Tevez, City looked directionless and lacking in leadership at Molineux.

Before the start of the season, unconvinced by Mancini's display last term, I suggested his biggest task was the careful utilisation of the vast resources, not to mention vast wage packets and vast egoes, at his disposal. He has yet to come to terms with this.

City have an abundance of gifted players but they lack a definite structure, while Mancini himself appears lost in a tactical fog at times. He devised a perfect stifling gameplan to snuff out Chelsea but produced a puzzling answer to City's struggles at Wolves by bringing on defender Pablo Zabaleta for goalscorer Adebayor.

The suspicion remains that Mancini's natural conservatism is holding him back from using the attacking riches he has, such as Johnson and James Milner on the flanks and Adebayor and Tevez together through the middle.

Mancini's decision to let Craig Bellamy join Cardiff City on loan has also been revisited in the light of recent results but it was clear Eastlands was not big enough for the both of them under any circumstances.

The pressure will mount on Mancini if he cannot fashion a decent points haul against West Brom and Manchester United - but he must not stand alone in the blame game that is bound to ensue if City's troubles continue.

I have never been totally sold on Mancini and still question whether he is the right man to take City to the success commensurate with their riches but this does not stop me having a measure of sympathy for his current plight.

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Mancini will accept his share of his responsibilty but is it not time some of City's players showed some responsibility of their own? He appears unable to fathom a culture that sees players head to Scotland for golf and drinking on a day off - and he is not alone.

Surely he is right to expect, at the very least, a measure of sensible recovery and preparation from players so richly rewarded? Should he really have to worry about what might happen on a day off? He is their manager not their father.

As the mystified Mancini rightly said after the incident in Scotland: "I don't understand why they have chosen this and I am unhappy about it. We are playing every three or four days at the moment and it is difficult enough to recover."

And what of suggestions that Mancini's departure would not be mourned by many of his squad, who have struggled to cope with his demanding training methods and supposedly stand-offish approach?

I have heard the dissenting voices at Eastlands from Manchester City fans unsure about Mancini but you suspect they would take the side of their manager in this debate. Plenty of City supporters would train morning, noon and night for a great deal less than half of the salary commanded by many of their squad. They would certainly accept a boss who was a bit slow to throw his arms around them.

Is it not time City's players stopped complaining and simply got on with the job?

The good news is that City are in a relatively healthy fourth position in the Premier League, although their Abu Dhabi owners will justifiably expect Champions League football as the minimum requirement for their huge outlay.

Mancini's task is to make sure Cook's infamous "trajectory of results" takes an upward curve in the next 10 days - but this is not down to the Italian alone.

Manchester City's players must somehow forge a bond among themselves and their manager if a club that almost prides itself on upheaval is not to be disrupted again.

Another of Cook's finest lines was: "Comedy has always been at the heart of what this club is all about." Now it is time to get serious.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Do wonder if Mancini has what it takes to control the big names under his command. At Inter he had it easy with the title handed to him due to the Italian scandals and lack of competition after. However at City they are not a top club yet and its his mission to get them amongst the big names, signing players likes football manager is one thing, getting them all to play together is another thing entirely.

    Mancini needs to show he has the manhood to do things his way and take no prisoners, if he fails to do this he will go the same was as Erikson and Hughes.

  • Comment number 2.

    Manchester City lacked cohesion and commitment on Saturday. Their performance was summed up by one man - Mario Balotelli. One of the worst individual performances I've seen at Molineux in a long time

  • Comment number 3.

    Mancini will accept his share of his responsibilty but is it not time some of City's players showed some responsibility of their own? He appears unable to fathom a culture that sees players head to Scotland for golf and drinking on a day off - and he is not alone.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's a possible downside of signing players who might be there just for the money. When the going's good they play well and bask in the limelight. When the going's tough and they need to put the work in they don't, knowing they'll get their massive wages either way. It's not as if the likes of Adebayor, the Toure's, Jo, Boateng, even some of the English players on big money have a massive love of the club is it?

  • Comment number 4.

    Mancini cannot really complain. After all, he did spend a vast amount of the sheikh's money on players that warm the bench. Now I know that the owners will have had input in this, and have expectations of Mancini to sign big players, but Mancini could have stated that he would strengthen the team sensibly!

  • Comment number 5.

    Mancini is not being helped out by his players at all, yet some of his decisions are a bit concerning.

    We were outflanked (literally) at the weekend. Two fullbacks, Richards and Boateng, look more like NFL Linebackers than footballers. Both were continually made to look foolish by Jarvis and Hunt. Boateng was similarly exposed by Blackpool's left winger. Little was done to offer any protection to the fullbacks.
    Yaya Toure I'm hoping will come good in a similar way in which Foe (RIP) did some seasons ago but at the moment that isn't looking likely. On current form, Vieira would start ahead of Yaya Toure.
    Replacing Adebayor with Zabaleta when we're a goal down is also pretty baffling, particularly as Adebayor was providing a much greater threat than Balotelli.

    Not reaching for the panic button yet but 4 points needed from next 2 games.

  • Comment number 6.

    Personally, I'm not sure the team's good enough.

    I know they've spent a ton of money, but they haven't exactly been signing the types of players Real Madrid have recently. They're a good squad, but with only 11 players on the pitch, they're short of a few really high quality players.

    For example, if you went to Arsenal with as much cash as you wanted, Ade would not have been the first choice player on your list. Same with Kolo. Barcelona and Toure the same. Silva's good, but you would have taken Villa from Valencia. Get my drift?

    They don't seem to be signing THE cracks (as they say in South America).

    Also, a lot of the signings have come in after some sort of issue with their previous club (Ade, Kolo, Yaya, Balotelli, even Tevez to some extent). If that's the case, it's hardly the basis for a happy dressing room.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is when we'll see the difference between Mourinho/Chelsea circa 2004/5 and Moneybags City. Too many overpaid prima donnas I think, quite content to do little or nothing for their (exorbitant) salaries - IMHO this makes Mancini's job harder rather than easier. If YoYo Toure's worth £200K a week I should be on at least £50K a week - the fact I'm not speaks volumes.

  • Comment number 8.

    Mancini should have followed Mourinho's and Wenger's blueprint when attempting to mold a big team into a great one ie. keep the back-bone of the team intact, Adams et al at Arsenal and Terry and Lamps at Chelsea (players who control the dressing room) and build around them bit by bit infusing new buys with the club's ethos. The problem with City is that they overloaded their squad with super-ego 'mercenaries' one after the other and all too quickly - Adebayor, Yaya Toure, Tevez etc.

    Not that the City players or any others particularly deserve defending but Mourinho and Wenger's know their manager will back them to the hilt whilst Mancini lays them out to dry..so isn't well liked and lacks their respect.

  • Comment number 9.

    Does anyone else think that City looked so poor as a team because Wolves had the cohesion to play as one unit?

    Surely City's problems were only highlighted because it was a bottom 3 side performing as they should have been. At one end you had Doyle working his socks off, while at the other Balotelli was sulking. On one side Wolves were playing a lovely passing game, combined with a well-timed tackling defence, while City chose to play the long ball and shirked the midfield challenges.

  • Comment number 10.

    McNulty writing another Man City article? How predictable. I'm sure you're well on your way to getting that executive seat Phil ;)

  • Comment number 11.

    From the Gossip column...
    Manchester City players want manager Roberto Mancini sacked, believing they will never challenge for the Premier League title with the Italian in charge.
    =======================
    Delete the last 5 words and the statement is more accurate.

    Also, how long before your projected results conversation with Mancini and the board happens?

  • Comment number 12.

    The joy of McNulty's blog is that City are now having a taste of what it really means to be a "Massive Club"
    One wrong turn and suddenly its a disaster - Look at Fergies percieved ups and downs over the years across the city or how Mourinho was ditched at Chelsea.
    This is the age of 24 hour news - City fans need to get with the program of seeing your club lurching from ultimate triumph to positively disastrous when nothing of the sort is actually happening at either end of the scale. Believe me its sometimes worse than being the joke club you once were.
    Part of the present problem comes from having a circus clown running your business in respect or PR.
    Get rid of him and then some of the downward trajectory tripe he spouts when firing a decent bloke can be eradicated and used agianst you again in the future.
    Then you might truly become a "Massive Club"

  • Comment number 13.

    6. At 3:52pm on 01 Nov 2010, Sean wrote:

    That's very true, mate. They've gone for sub-standard 'stars'. Doesn't make much sense to me really, if you want to control the world, why go for short term good players when you could sign long term signings that will form the bases of the team?

    I also agree with post #8. and City should have tried to keep a core of players, but I don't feel anyone was good enough apart from Richard Dunne who should have stayed at the team as the captain. Big loss he was.

    If I had the chance to manage City from the point they were taken over, I would never have bought Adebayor - he's okay, but his attitude is poor. Robinho? Was a good signing, but never hit it off. I would have tried to sign a great 'Keeper (they did that), a engine in Centre-midfield (not done), Wingers for width (done), & then I would have signed two top class Centre Forwards (Tevez was a great signing but they didn't follow it up with another player in that bracket). David Villa would have been my top target.

  • Comment number 14.

    It looks to me that most of the City players seem to lack any real passion to win at all costs and give their all. They have one in Tevez and got rid of another in Bellamy (big mistake). Why this is exactly is hard to say, sure they went there coz of the money, but many players do that at other big clubs. Most players, I would imagine, have an innate desire to win when they play, sadly(for City) this doesn't seem to be happening at the moment.
    Perhaps they believed their own hype in the last few weeks and thought all they had to do was turn up and they would win, unfortunately for them football doesnt work like that. This mind set isn't a conscience decision but happens on a sub-conscience level, eg not tracking back or making a run as some part of their mind believes their team will get the ball back soon anyway or someone else will make a run that leads to a goal.
    If this is the case then what can Mancini do to change that? I'm guessing that recent results should be able to drive them on to playing much better in the coming games. If it doesn't, then Mancini will be on his way out.
    If it's true that he has lost the dressing room and that the players don't like him, then he may aswell just forget about it, coz he will get the boot. The trouble is, who can replace him that is of sufficient stature right now and is available?

  • Comment number 15.

    Typical, a blog about City inundated with comments from Man United fans, they really must be scared.

    I agree Mancini deserves some loyalty, he's bought well and it will take time for players to settle. To give Balotelli stick when his only previous appearance last 20 minutes takes the biscuit.

    I never thought City would gel as quickly as some pundits predicted, but the point is City can beat anyone when they click, and their second 11 would probably be in the top half of the Premiership. Maybe it's a question of too much choice and various options need to be explored before we see the real quality emerge.

  • Comment number 16.

    Too many egos, too much money, too much expectation. I said a while ago that Mancini wouldn't last the season out, I may be proved right.

  • Comment number 17.

    Two points.

    Firstly, Wolves is a difficult place to go and they proved in recent weeks against Chelsea and United that they're a good footballing team. It wasn't a case of if City turned up with the right attitude, they'd have walked away with three points - it was a tough game.

    Secondly, SURELY Adam Johnson has got to be given a run of games?

  • Comment number 18.

    I can see another defeat at WBA leading to massive pressure going into the United game. However I wouldn't bet against City raising their game in their cup final as they did many times with a much inferior squad in years gone by. This would buy Mancini some time to get the press off his back.

    Not sure who they'd fancy to do a better job at the moment. Mourinho has already done the bottomless pit of money act at Chelsea and seems to be eyeing up Fergie's job and there are few other outstanding managers under the age of 60 who you'd fancy to come in and do it on short notice.

    I think the biggest problem at City is the defence who aside from Kompany don't look like they'd get a game at United or Chelsea coupled with Mancini's conservatism.

  • Comment number 19.

    You said Liverpool would win the league last season.
    #justsayin

  • Comment number 20.

    As a devotee of lower league football and only an idle follower of the Premiership, I think it's inevitable. The teams who seem to gel with each other, the manager and the fans are the ones with a positive self image, a low budget and little corporate interest.

    By this I mean clubs such as Blackpool (tiny budget, great charismatic manager, no player bigger than the team, revel in their underdog status, almost zero corporate interest), Newcastle last season (small budget, in-control manager, huge fanbase, new mindset), Leeds (bigger budget, strong manager, huge fanbase, spurred on by memories of past glories).


    In my opinion, teams like Manchester Utd but especially those like City and Chelsea will always eventually implode. A very special manager (Ancelotti, Ferguson) will be able to contain the egos, soothe the owner's passions and unite the club. But this is temporary- I think Ferguson is losing it now and I don't think Mancini is up to the job at City. There's too much money and too much arrogance in the dressing room for Mancini to control.

    I may be wrong but I prophesise City being subject to the same player/manager merry-go-round as Real Madrid. They might get success but interspersed with periods of chaos and uncertainty.

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't think, and I don't think anybody else here including Phil, is saying there is any kind of crisis at City so early on. I think the point being made is that there appears to be trouble brewing and, if results go downhill (which of course is a mere IF as things stand), it could boil over with a few, although talented, perhaps controversial characters throughout the squad. Also i'm not sure I buy all this "in it for the money" tosh. I think they were sold an idea, a dream, of City being THE dominant force in football in the next few years and they wanted to be a part of it. That's why some have taken, what i'm sure people will admit, was an apparent "step down" from the likes of Barca and Arsenal to City. If the results come I think Mancini will have a happy camp and will continue to add more quality. If not I think cracks will appear and Mancini will quickly, perhaps unfortunately prematurely, find himself walking the precarious tightrope of trying to hold onto his job and control of the dressing room ...

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Gotta say, posts 8 & 9 say it all.
    respect to JoC and tommystoz.

    As a wolves follower not fan. (Dad was a wolves fan) It's a sign of a competitive league when the black and gold are so low in the table and they're playing so well.
    The top teams are going to drop points if they have the slightest off day. I know chelski got away with it, but they have the backbone and maturity that city lack.

    One question JoC who would you have kept in the Man City spine? Keeping dunne in the centre of defence and Ireland in the squad maybe... I'm no City expert, but who else do you keep? Tevez was a great idea in that vein, as an anti united signing but what else could have been done?

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh dear... where do i start? Manchester City are set up like a typical Spanish La Liga Club it seems, but they have clearly not put any thought into who they have signed as it would seem that many of these Players are going to take months if not years to gel together. Its all well and good buying a Yaya Toure say... but did anyone stop to think who would partner him in midfield best before hand? It seems to me that someone just sat down and wrote a Christmas list out but at the last minute sent it off to Jimmy Saville instead. I don't think any Manager/Coach out there could gel this Squad together in the next 6 months personally so fans should accept that Mr Mancini will need time to cook these crazy ingredients into potentially the tastiest Omlette in Europe.

    Someone needs to ease the pressure off at Eastlands fast as it has clearly got to the Players already. Lets just remember not all Overseas Players Gel into the Premiership overnight... think of how long it took Dennis Bergkamp to explode into life and become the legend Arsenal Fans will never forget?

  • Comment number 25.

    5. At 3:48pm on 01 Nov 2010, gaudinos_motors wrote:

    "Not reaching for the panic button yet but 4 points needed from next 2 games."

    What a MASSIVE club. Enough money to make the Egyptian Pharaohs blush and yet you'd be happy with a point against your biggest rival( or is it West Brom you'd be happy with a draw against?) I'm not sure that's the ambition that will win you titles.

    Here is the problem as I see it (as a completely biased United fan). You've spent all that money but Tevez aside, are any of the new boys actually any good? Serious question.....

    Also, you need rid of Cook. He makes Kenyon look like a saint. And that takes some doing.

    Here's to another 34 years! MASSIVE club........

  • Comment number 26.

    Mancini according to Bellamy would speak to neither him nor Tevez and remember it is the Tevez goals that have kept city going, all terribly reminiscent of the Souness days at Newcastle. Mancini was never the right man for what is going on at City, he is too cautious, City should be the most attractive attacking force in the premiership (well almost) but instead Mancini just doesn't play that way, as witness the way he plays Johnston or rather doesn't play him. There has been no structured team building ever since the current owner took over, as long as someone costs more than 25 million then he must be good enough to buy....Mancini will not be there at the end of the season.

  • Comment number 27.

    Sean wrote:

    I know they've spent a ton of money, but they haven't exactly been signing the types of players Real Madrid have recently. They're a good squad, but with only 11 players on the pitch, they're short of a few really high quality players.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sean makes a good point.
    Apart from Tevez, City have no real world class players. They are top/very good players but not that special.
    Barca have many as do Madrid(Ronaldo is worth 3), Inter have a few(Eto, Sneider, Maicon and more) as do Bayern(Robben, Ribery Sweinsteiger).
    In the premier Chelsea have Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Malouda and A. Cole. Arsenal have Fabregas, Arshvarin, Van Persie and a great team ethic. Even Liverpool when they were doing well had Gerrard, Torres, Alonso, Reina and Mascerano.
    City have Tevez...thats it.
    Adebyor(spelling) just no. Johnson though good is not there yet. Silva isnt bad but he's hardly a world beater. Milner? not a chance. Hart? maybe in the future. Yaya? he couldnt have been that fantastic or Barca wouldn't have sold him. Barry? Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think City should sell players who aren't performing and just keep the same team without much rotation... would make the players work together and create cohesion...

  • Comment number 29.

    I think #6 Sean is spot on. They have signed a lot of good players which makes them a really good squad, however it's about the team. They only have #11 on the pitch at any one time and I think their first choice 11 wouldn't be in Champions League contention. Then when you throw into the mix the lack of team spirit/unity I think they are well off the championship that they should be aiming for.

    I do reckon that they will make 4th this year though which may help them recruit the superstars.

  • Comment number 30.

    Phil - you say we missed Tevez, of course we did. But you fail to mention the significance of the absence of De Jong, arguably an even more important player to us than Tevez because he's the one that makes Mancini's system work and without him like on Saturday, we were rudderless. Take out the best two players from every premiership team and then take on a fired up Wolves away and lets see what happens. This is not a crisis, its a blip!

  • Comment number 31.

    The current owner doesn't have the foggiest idea about running a football club and why should he ?. But for goodness sake put an advert in the exchange and mart for some people that do know what they are doing. Bellamy scores all the goals last season so Mancini thinks it would be a good idea to be shot of him and this season it is Tevez, who again who is at war with. It isn't only Mancini though, can all the top management there and start again with people who know how to run a club.

  • Comment number 32.

    Adebayor arguing with Kompany was an obvious illustration of things being rotten in Denmark. Mancini might wear the scarf well, but he may need a balaclava soon.

  • Comment number 33.

    If I was a City fan I'd be asking just why Lescott, Milner and Barry are playing nowhere near their full potential.

    All three are excellent players, and even for allowing time to settle in a new squad they're playing nowhere near as well as they can.

    Mancini has done well promoting Hart - the boy will doubtlessly make mistakes, but he's a quality goalie on a par with most other EPL goalies and still improving meaning experience at the sharp end now will reap City dividends in seasons to come.

    But he still can't seem to make an actual team out of the squad, and prima donnas like Adebayor aren't helping. I suspect Mancini is a stopgap, and when City are in the CL they'll move for someone better.

  • Comment number 34.

    A City fan here, who just wants to make clear we do not want Mancini out but instead feel the players should get behind him, as we are so we can continue the form before the travesty of a performance we saw at Molineux. Get our heads back on and bring on the derby!

  • Comment number 35.

    So many opinions..........so little time to care what you 'fans' think of Our club.

  • Comment number 36.

    3 pts off second after 10 games with a side that has hardly played together
    i am happy with that bare in mind we have done this with one inform striker

  • Comment number 37.

    With the sole exception of Chelsea (and even they have had their on & off field problems with players) no team can buy success. You can buy the best 15 players in the world but if the manager cannot get them to gel as an effective playing unit you may as well have a team full of free transfers. And I am not sure Mancini is the man to make this happen. He did a good job last season but this year will be much harder as every other team wants to beat the millionaires row boys. The funniest thing is (as a Man Utd fan) it is only 10 games into the season & both players & fans are falling out already. Typical Man City.

  • Comment number 38.

    Phil - you may or may not have noticed that also on the pitch on Saturday were 11 players in gold and black - you have fallen into the classic trap of knocking the big boys when they fail rather than giving praise to the smaller club when it is due.

    Wolves won on Saturday because they were excellent - there is life beyond the top 4 - it all gets rather dull reading about your views on Chelsea, ManU, Liverpool, Arsenal and ManC - why not give a bit of airtime to the other three quarters of the Premier League.

  • Comment number 39.

    when players play for money, city could quite easily pay half the wages and and extra 1/3 for a draw, and half dor a win. this would get them playing for the money, but in trying to get money, picking the team up 3 points each week. seems like the best way to go for a club like city, play for incentives

  • Comment number 40.

    It occurs to me that the most successful managers (Ferguson, Mourinho,Ancellotti, Wenger,etc) tend to fit players into their own successful systems. Yes, they may tweak the format dependent upon opposition, but the overall template for play exists. The players who are picked are comfortable with that because they know & understand the format. At Man. City there seems to be the opposite occuring where the players have been bought and the manager is struggling to find a suitable system to fit them into. Hence you get situations where one week all the midfielders are holding players and another week the are all wide players. A case of buying too many too quickly without having the managerial depth of thought to decide the basics of how your team are going to set up on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 41.

    Hardly any surprise Citeh is facing serious problems. First, they've near as made a clean break with the last "real" Citeh team, who is left? Second, they are doing all of this with one eye on the financial fair play rules, and another on the homegrown quota.

    Little hint there fellas, you're spending huge sums of money, and worrying about two rules that exist to curb the spending of huge sums of money. I can think of better ways for a club to shoot itself in the foot, but not too many...

    So, who all was on the market for Citeh to buy? Pretty obvious a lot of agents can see the lay of the land, get some big contracts and big transfer fees in now, before the rules change... Add to that the homegrown player restriction to further inflate the already inflated perception those players have of their value...

    It's called more money than brains, and it's hardly a new phenom. The entertainment value here isn't in the details, it's how many times through the loop does it take before the owner realizes he's funding the problems as much as the players...

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with the comments that suggest City haven't bought any of the recognised elite players in world football, but I would also say that this isn't due to a lack of effort on their part: does anyone else remember the siege they laid at Kaka's door whilst he was still at Milan? Figures of £500k per week were mentioned, and to his credit he turned them down.

    We have to ask why City have failed to attract the very best players in world football (Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka, Villa etc); I think these players don't need to sign for a club like City as they know the club isn't near challenging for the honours that will define their careers (Champs League, successive premier league titles) and they'll be earning sums that are sufficiently astronomical at genuine 'massive clubs' anyway like R Madrid or Barca or Milan.

    In an age where footballers are paid sums of money that are beyond most people's comprehension, the very best players have emerged as surprising defenders of the prestige of playing for the clubs with rich histories and footballing cultures that most kids dream of playing for and not succumbing to the temptation of tripling their pay. City will, for some time to come, be considered the 'nouveau riche' of European football and as such will struggle to attract the best players in each generation; I suspect they will be caught in a vicious circle of paying grossly inflated sums of money for players with equally inflated egos whose reputations have been manufactured by the occasional eye-catching performance and outspoken press conferences (Robinho) instead of being forged by consistently world class performances on the pitch (Messi).

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    35. signori wrote:
    "So many opinions..........so little time to care what you 'fans' think of Our club."

    I don't think you're fully grasping the concept of a blog.


    38. Jabbaonthebeeb wrote:
    "it all gets rather dull reading about your views on Chelsea, ManU, Liverpool, Arsenal and ManC - why not give a bit of airtime to the other three quarters of the Premier League."

    He wrote an interesting blog about Villa yesterday. Not many people left comments which sadly suggests that people only want to read about the 'top five'.

  • Comment number 45.

    All this is rubbish ... Adebayor is lazy and sulky and just a poor player and Balotelli is the same. The only thing is hopefully he will grow out of it. Mancini is a good manager and i believe we will beat Man Utd as Citys players get fired up for big games ala Chelsea and Liverpool. We also need to sign One/2 more top quality strikers maybe a Dzeko or Suarez to replace tevez when he is injured/ partner him

    PS get rid of gareth barry he is so slow its unbelievable

  • Comment number 46.

    Once again this shows what happens when the manager doesn't choose the players being bought in.

    Massive ego's, massive pay packets but no cohesion.

    I think they've bought some top players with terrible attitudes, Robinho, Adebayor and Balotelli on initial evidence.

    The Barrys and Harts will do more for the team than the expensive, talented but mercenaries who'll turn up collect their wages and not care whether they finish 10th or 4th.

  • Comment number 47.

    If City play many more games the way they played on Saturday they will not qualify for CL next season. Despite everything RM says about needing 24 top players to cover every position, what today showed was just how dependent they are on Tevez & NDJ.

    This performance will leave many City fans completely baffled; a game of 2 halves. For the first 20 minutes City were lively and completely dominant, looking self-assured as though they belong at the top table of the English game. But for the final seventy minutes City were lethargic and disorganized, arguing with each other, looking like a pre-season game with no sense of urgency, as though they belong at the lower half of Serie A. Only three players earned their pay; Kompany Silva & Johnson. All the rest should give their money back, or be charged with obtaining money under false pretences.

    So fans need to ask the maestro Mancini several questions.
    Why were so many players so lethargic? Are they tired after RM's double trainiing drills?
    Why were so many players so slow? Are they protesting the Mancini/Platt mafia tactics?
    Why were so many players so obviously unmotivated today? Absolute disgrace.
    Why leave Balotelli on for more than the first half? Its great to have him in the starting line-up, but he hardly impressed and was constantly arguing with officials.
    Why does RM regularly make strange tactical substitutions?
    Why leave Richards on for more than the first half when he was obviously having a nightmare?
    Why was Adam Johnson again left out & only introduced so late in the game? We all know AJ can be a game-changer.
    Why was Zab brought on to replace Ade when City were a goal down?
    Why was Jo brought on to replace Richards? Was this an admission that he made a tactical mistake 5 minutes earlier?

    I have tried really hard to support this Mancini guy, and always cheered for the club for more than 50 years, and I remember the ups & downs of those years (more downs than ups) and the years with poor ownership with no money. But this guy is difficult to like and his teams are difficult to watch, because of their strange tactical formations, and so much wasted talent and wasted money.

    There was a silly story in Sunday's papers about City planning to outbid everyone in January to sign Fernando Torres. IMHO 3 years ago Torres on his day was the best goal-scorer in the game, when Liverpool still had a half-decent team and Torres got good service. But today with all his injuries it is a different story, and I would say NO. Of course the papers are going to attack us & laugh at us for doing silly things, so we should stop doing silly things. Mancini's success record on signing new players is no better than Hughes record. Check it out.

    Mancini: successful 2 out of 8; Adam Johnson & David Silva.
    Mancini: maybes (injured) 2 out of 8; Boateng, Kolarov,
    Mancini: disappointments & failures 4 out of 8; Milner, YayaToure, Vieira, Balotelli.
    2 out of 8, that’s a 25% success rate after spending so much cash to sign them and now look at the wage bill.

    Hughes: successful 3 out of 11; Tevez, Kompany, NDJ.
    Hughes: maybes 2 out of 11; Given, Bellamy (not good enough for RM),
    Hughes: disappointments & abject failures 6 out of 11; Lescott, Barry, Bridge, RSC, KoloToure, Ade.
    3 out of 11 that’s a 27% success rate after spending so much cash to sign them and now look at the wage bill.

  • Comment number 48.

    Anyone would swear City were 4th from bottom, not 4th from top. A poor performance against Wolves, yes. Poor decisions ,at least, in the last few games by RM. I would say, yes. The end, no. People willing it to be the end, yes.

    For the first time this season, City will be near full strength for the WBA game. Tevez should be available again, though I don't know how serious De Jong's injury is. People will say how much money we've got sitting on the bench (a lot of it spent by Mark Hughes) but I don't care, Saturday showed how big these 2 players are for the team. Whether other players are falling short is a different matter. And to make finite judgements about players like Balotelli after only one game and after a long injury is pathetic and really out of the England Handbook on Knee Jerkism.

    I've been disappointed by our last 2 defeats. I think RM's playing too conservatively, but he's our manager so I'm going to give him every chance to show us his way will work when it's 'his' team, and not Mark Hughes'. And that means seeing what happens when everyone's back and had match time together. I expect to see our players pulling their fingers out for a tough game away against Poznan on Thursday, another tough one away at WBA, and then the derby. If we don't, then RM has a problem.

    Was it Brian Clough said "You win nothing at Christmas"? And he could just as easily have said "Some people never learn."

  • Comment number 49.

    Those of us who think of football as a sport will be delighted that Wolves beat City. And the worry for City is it was not a fluke.

    Mancini cannot reassert authority, he did not have it in the first place, no manager at a club like City has the power. Its all about players. One week its Given whingeing, then Adebayor, then Santa Cruz.

    Blackpool, like Wolves, represent football closer to the common man,most neutrals will be happy if City implode whilst the others survive.

    What is going on at City at the moment will define football in the next few years, The Americans at Liverpool have been removed, the Glazers at United wont be long behind. How long before the Sheikh realises that money cant buy you everything.

  • Comment number 50.

    The prevailing culture at many English clubs, i.e. which allows the players much more individual freedom and personal lifestyle choices (than what they would be allowed at Italian clubs) can present problems for some Italian(*) managers, e.g. Manchini and Cappello. Both Cappello and Manchini come from a culture where football clubs have complete control over players lives and demand strict obedience to club and to manager. This is nothing new, when Denis Law returned from his spell with Torino in the the sixties, he complained that " The club wants to own you body and soul".
    Cappello may be able to accommodate such a culture shock, because he only has players for specific periods; however for a Manager like Manchini, this culture shock could debilitate his whole management style.
    (* Not all Italian Managers find difficulty in coping with this, as Ancelloti and DeMatteo can testify)
    This might also explain why relatively few british players are successfull abroad -again with some obvious exceptions?

  • Comment number 51.

    Man City are not set up to deal well with adversity. It seems they are a team perpetually on a knife-edge where a couple of bad results could lead to some kind of implosion, but that's the risk you take with a scattershot transfer policy where you just throw money at diffuse players with neither allegiance to Man City, nor experience in English football and then expect them to perform.

    Players know that the buck stops with Mancini, and as they are on cushy four or five years contracts they can just bide their time and rake in the big bucks until a new manager comes in.

    Mancini can very quickly resemble a 'dead man walking' when results do not go City's way (especially when players have shouting matches on the pitch and make swift exits to 'beat the traffic'), that is the nature of the beast. However, it seems like he's going the right way to become the architect of his own downfall by making every attempt to alienate his players and persisting with an overly conservative formation that only really works when Tevez is around to do all the running. Considering the players at his disposal, it seems a tragic waste to play a narrow block of three midfielders who have spent the bulk of their career winning the ball and passing it to someone far more skillful.

    Also, what's his problem with Adam Johnson?

    Wolves' victory over City proved once again that football is indeed a team game and success comes to those teams that are more than the sum of their parts. If City get back in winning ways, everything will be rosy and the players will be ambivalent to Mancini, but I can't help but feel that his hold on the job can and will become tenuous at the drop of a hat over the course of this season.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Unlike Phil, and some previous posters, I can not read the minds of people (players) that I do not know and with whom I have never conversed nor exchanged correspondence.

    What I do know however, because it's provable, is that 2 games ago City were regarded as breaking the old set-up and looking like the only challengers to Chelsea, whereas now they are apparently in real trouble and could lose their manager. Rubbish and rubbish. Media hyperbole.

    Must be more constructive topics around?

  • Comment number 54.

    I’ve been through the ups & downs of the last so many blue years. I was on the terraces at St James Park in 1968 when City beat Newcastle to win the old first div championship. Part of being a true-blue is trying to be an optimist but learning to be a realist, learning to live with the disappointments, but experience teaches you to beware of false dawns.

    In the 24 years that SAF has been at OT, City had 17 managers (14 excluding caretaker-managers). Why are the owners so poor at hiring managers, and so poor at picking players paying too much for signing & wages? I believe a new manager needs at least a year to build some improvements, especially if inheriting a problem situation, and we have had lots of those. But what about a poor new manager who struggles early on, maybe he needs to be shown the door early on, to limit the damage. I see it regularly in business, where a new employee shows signs of being a bad choice after a couple of months and the best thing is to cut them loose early.

    I was not one of those calling for Sven’s head. He wasn’t my choice, with his nomadic suitcase lifestyle and his history of buying success not building success. His team played a possession game that was tough to beat, and I cheered for the team. I would rate SGE a 6 out of 10 overall.

    I was not one of those calling for Hughes' head. He wasn’t my choice, as playing success does not guarantee managerial success. His team of overpaid under-achievers took too long to gel, and he made poor tactical use of substitutions. It started going wrong with MH running round chasing after Terry & Kaka & RSC & Lescott & KoloToure & Adebayor, offering too much for signatures and paying too much in wages. He paid too much for ordinary players, and all they could deliver was all those dreadful draws, but I cheered for the team. I would rate MH a 4 out of 10 overall.

    I was not one of those calling for Mancini's head. He wasn’t my choice, with only limited experience with the English game. It was obvious to me at the time that he was only a caretaker in a short-term role with a short-term objective (top four finish or win one of the cups), He missed out on the cups with tactical errors, and let fourth place slip from his grasp at the end of last season. Compare RM to Arry who coached a winning streak from those Spurs misfits last year. I would rate RM a 2 out of 10 overall.

    Mancini was given vast sums of money to sign a massive squad, on his “two players for every position team”, an unrealistic idea for a good coach let alone for an average coach with poor tactical sense. His team plays boring unattractive football, based on ultra-defensive tactical formations with crowded midfield. The EPL is not Serie A. In business and in sports, when you recruit your old buddies, you surround yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear (not what you need to hear). Now Roberto recruited his old buddies & surrounded himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear (not what he needs to hear). But still I cheer for the team.

    So what about the new season; started out with such high hopes, plans, money, ambition, big name signings, and it comes down to these dreadful performances. This is a low point for me with club & media building up hype and hope, but not delivering the goods. I hope the Sheikh sticks with City long-term because we need him. I hope the Sheikh does a better job recruiting his next GM & selecting his next coach.

    Seriously disappointed.

  • Comment number 55.

    Have to agree wholeheartedly with topbanana (#12). This is overblown nonesense made out of a blip in City's season. After the Liverpool ownership story and all the hyperbole surrounding Rooney the media need to find a new 'crisis club' to feed off; unlike last year, however, there's no Portsmouth to keep them satisfied on a slow news day. (Of course there still is but all interest in football stops after the Premier League. Clearly.)

    The media love playing it both ways. Chelsea are a great team for their 'strength in depth' and 'experience'. A few bad results later and suddenly 'players are unhappy' and the squad is 'ageing'. Or Arsenal who are 'easy on the eye' and 'full of exciting youngsters', quickly become 'one-dimensional' and 'inexperienced'...!

    Sigh.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thanks for so many constructive and interesting posts on this. To socrates_says...I agree with you about Adam Johnson, but clearly Mancini appears to have reservations on and off the pitch - and footage of him on the night out in Scotland was the sort of publicity he could do without.

    As I said, I am not sold on Mancini, but how about some responsibility and maturity from players on some of the biggest salaries in football?

    As Dominic says, I am not suggesting there is a crisis at City, but there is no doubt all is not well and it needs to be tackled by Mancini.

    City fans, do your sympathies lie with a manager trying to take a hard line or the players? And have City's owners made a rod for their own back by sacking Mark Hughes in such short order last season?

    Let's do an exercise I have done before with other teams. You are Mancini for a day, all your players are fit and available, what is your best team?

    Also, give me your assessment of the players who have arrived at Eastlands this summer.

  • Comment number 57.

    City remind me of the simpsons episode where a sporting event was held at the "historic yahoo search engine arena". Nothing really about the club is of interest i suspect and they are just there to line their pockets. it's a shame but this was clear for all to see.

  • Comment number 58.

    city are possibly the only team I can think off that can have Billions to spend, but can still manage to shoot themselves in to the foot.


    Keep it up lads!

  • Comment number 59.

    Phil

    I wrote a long comment that for some reason "needs further consideration."

    So I'll make this one a bit shorter.

    Mancini and other managers are now in my view using player's private lives to deflect attention from their own incompetence.

    This is a very bad trend in English football, because it's upsetting the players needlessly and causing them to underperform.

    As BBC football correspondent, clearly you have to know about a wide variety of teams, so can't be expected to be as expert as a lot of the fans about the day to day ins and out of any particular team, e.g. Man City, and have a detailed knowledge of all the games.

    But as somebody who's watched every game since Adam Johnson signed last December (and before that since under Sven) Mancini's omission of him is just baffling, and I have my theories, but as I want this one to appear today, I won't list them all in detail.

    However, I think it should be pointed out that Mancini's own son was previously on loan to Manchester City before his arrival, and is not still there.

    Knowing how proud Italian fathers traditionally are, I cannot believe this is not in Mancini's mind somewhere, that he is perhaps managing the English football team which rejected (as far as I can see) his own son, considered him not good enough.

    The other thing is, I think Mancini is a "yes" man, who gave unreasonable expectations to the owners, because after 12 months unemployed after dismissal from Milan, he was desperate for a job.

    Now, like some kind of Neo-Captain Bligh, he is therefore cracking the whip on the Man City players like the blazes, even trying to control all their private lives, and not surprisingly, there is a growing "Mutiny on the Man City Bounty."

    I think within a few weeks, we'll find that the mutiny is going to be total.

  • Comment number 60.

    When Ferguson took over United he needed to overhaul the club from its roots and this is what he did. But to do this, he needed time and patience from the owners and this is what he got. For City to achieve this they need patience but that has never been a virtue displayed by the people running the club with the huge manager turnover they have had in the last few decades, and this is not likely to change with the huge amount of cash thrown at the club by Mansour.

    Personally I thought the worst thing that happened to City was the Thaksin takeover and the attendant injection of cash. At this time they had a great academy and they were slowly building a solid premiership foundation. When Thaksin took over, and then Mansour, this unleashed a huge expectation that Cooke has found difficult to control and in fact increased himself. This has just enflamed a latent impatience in the City faithful that has so often in the past damaged the club. City are a club as much as any other that needs stability and a steady build-up of success with faith thrown behind their manager so they can build a club around them with players they can trust. Unfortunately this seems unlikely.

    People may look at Chelsea and point to this as a club that achieved instant success through massive cash injection. But in doing this they are forgetting that Chelsea was already a top six trophy winning side before Abramovic's takeover. Not only that but they are based in a city that top European players would be happy to live. Although I love the city the only thing going for Manchester for most top international footballers is United or a big pay cheque;)

  • Comment number 61.

    Its remarkable to me that managers like Mancini and Haughton are supposedly on a short leash now. To be honest, I think both of them have done phenomenal jobs and are overachieving with their respective clubs in the face of unrealistic expectations. I would hate to see this media originated demagoguery have any tangible consequences. Hope the club bosses have more sense and stick to these 2 guys.

  • Comment number 62.

    The problem for Mancini is his players are not good enough. Barry, Milner, Adebayor, de Jong and Yaya Toure are not world class. The only one they have that is, and it is debatable, is Tevez. They are defensively sound with a good keeper but going forward, what do they have? Adam Johnson is promising, Milner is an average premiership player and the rest are defensive. Take Tevez and his brilliance out of it, they have nothing. They are not a top 4 side yet and won't be until they start signing some top players, not players that were not good enough for Arsenal, Barcelona etc. and stood out only in an average Aston Villa side.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    PS

    I also feel that the media are somewhat unwittingly conspiring with managers to lead the fans to condemn the players on account of their salaries and publicly displayed private lives.

    This is resulting in fans unfairly blaming players for their performance, as if it was drink related or due to lack of commitment, when actually it is more often the manager who is failing to organise the team well and motivate them, give them support, confidence and self-belief.

    I am not suprised managers en masse are now resorting to these tactics, and I think Alex Ferguson branded Wayne Rooney as some kind of greedy traitor in order to get the fans to turn against him, with the appalling result that a crazed mob of fans was actually protesting outside Rooney's house.

    Surely Ferguson could have predicted some such result of his public character assassination of Rooney?

    I feel this was therefore a cynical effort to hold on to Rooney, who in the end I believe caved into the fear of what the fans might do to him if he left Man United.

    I think this is the desperate and in my view unacceptable sort of thing some managers are resorting to routinely now, which the fans and it appears most journalists are not reading between the lines of, and so I think you are wrong to take the manager's side.

    It's so easy to bash Premier League footballers - label them drunks, overpaid, womanising and so on - but I don't think you can expect any more from what on average are just only averagely inelligent and not usually well educated, but rich and famous young men, and so it's unfair to criticise them in fashion unless there's some objective proof that their off duty behaviour is significantly affecting their game.

    All the fans want to see is performance on the pitch, and hopefully the managers want to see that to, and they'll get lots better results, if they stop being down on the players and in both cases, and start supporting them and being tolerant once again.

    We can for example, assume Adam Johnson has been conducting his social life in this kind of way for most of his career, and his career up until Mancini's benching of him has been blooming and blossoming, not going down, so whatever Johnson drinks, is clearly not the problem, but just an excuse from Mancini for other reasons he has which he isn't letting us in on.

  • Comment number 65.

    Silk Purse, sows ear. Some of the players at City shouldn't ever have been brought there, either by Mancini or Hughes. A Manager and a player should be able to get past personalities and play. I can't imagine Ryan Giggs Sharing too many glass of red with Sir Alex. But the boss is the boss. Some of the players don't agree, Tevez for example, which is why Ferguson let him go in the first place. Personally I don't fear any team in the Premiership as a United Fan because I think we have the beating of Chelsea. That will make up the 5 point gap that exists already. Mancini? I reckon he will have left the premiership by the start of 2012.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Mancini's sides are too narrow and not progressive enough going forward. James Milner can play central but he's better out wide, same can be said of Silva, but Mancini seems keen on this 4-3-3 narrow formation that doesn't work with the players he plays.

    City's buys have been questionable. Kolo Toure wasn't wanted by Arsene Wenger and Adebayor was allowed to go; for obvious reasons, Adebayor though a talented guy was not good for the squad, Toure was inconsistent and cannot deal with a ball in the air. How much money are they getting paid now? Lescott, an astounding waste of money. Balotelli, a huge some for a player certainly with potential but unproved. Yaya Toure, can a player really leave Barcelona for Manchester City and give it the same level of commitment?

    Mancini questions a culture that amongst the players, and while you have sympathy Phil I most certainly don't. City have chosen to pay waning players and young kids funny money, the wages they pay mean they can do little with any players that fall out of line or ship out any players who are surplus to requirements. Yaya Toure is being paid what £180,000-£220,000 a week? I'd laugh if it wasnt so obscene.

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm pretty confident Mancini will be sacked by the end of this year. There is already loads of pressure on him and the two recently results have put even more pressure on him. This is what he gets when he spends millions of money in the transfer windows

    There is a good chance the Fabio Cappello will replace Mancini. Fabio's manager record as manager at a club is a lot better than his record at national level. This will solve both Man City and England's problems. England. Harry Redknapp is very likely to be next England manager at the moment.

    Lets see what happens

  • Comment number 69.

    @ comment 27 - re Silva hardly a world beater.

    Spanish international, so current World and European champion.
    That kind of would make him a world beater no?

  • Comment number 70.

    final PS

    I want to put it in a nutshell for easy reading:

    Here's what's really going on in football right now

    1. managers are very insecure in their jobs due to over-high expectations from the owners, and in the case of England, the fans and media

    2. players are unpopular with the public on account of the media thrusting their riches and colourful lifestyles in their faces daily

    3. managers therefore are resorting to using the media to put the blame on players to take the heat off themselves and save their jobs, which the public is ready to support

    4. The players can't cope with all the public and media condemnation and underperform or behave even worse, e.g. drinking binges, to escape the pressure

    The media are of course ultimately responsible for this, because they are chasing every last morsel of scandal to sell their publications with or attract listeners or viewers.

    Is four Man City stars having a vacation party with a bunch of students really national news?

    In my view the media should not be allowed to report on the private lives of anybody, including celebrities, without their consent, unless they have broken some law.

    As this is not likely to be made law in the foreseeable future, journalists needs to start taking responsiblity for their actions, as the constant criticism and character assassination of players in the media is causing them to underperform, as is so obvious with Wayne Rooney, ruining British football in general.

    I rather think therefore, that the main blame for England failing to win the World Cup for so long, rests mainly with the media, who in particular character assassinated Sven Goran Eriksson before the 2006 World Cup, causing the FA to be forced to sack him in advance of the finals.

    In short, the players in my view are being scapegoated for the sins and insecurities of both the football managers and the members of the media, both parties desperately seeking to hold onto their jobs, and envious of the "overapid" young men who now abound in the English Premier League.

  • Comment number 71.

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  • Comment number 72.

    This is a quite ridiculous article! Considering that Man city are still only 3 points behind second place. After two losses they are being labled as in trouble despite the fact thay one of them was to arsenal with them having only ten men on the pitch. Last week people were praising the team camararderie they had. They're are obviously going to be teething problems with a squad that has been this hastily thrown together and while Mancini might not be the greatest manager in the world he's doing well enough with city still in the europa league and on course for a champions league place. Classic media hysteria over one shock result

  • Comment number 73.

    More City bashing, lazy journalism.

  • Comment number 74.

    All the problems stem from Mancini's clueless tactics. He was enfuriating towards the end of last season and cost us the top 4 with his negative attitude against Tottenham and Man U towards the end of the season.

    Our team should be:

    ---------------Hart-----------
    Boateng---Toure--Kompany-------Kolarov
    --------Yaya------De Jong----------
    ------------Silva---------------
    Johnson-----------------------Milner
    ------------Tevez----------------

    These people who say City don't have genuine world class players really rile me. Boateng WC semi-finalist, Hart probs best keeper in the prem this year, Kompany has been one of the best CBs, Toure was one of the 'untouchables'. Silva is a WC winner, De Jong is WC finalist, YaYa CL winner, Johnson and Milner England internationals and Tevez is undoubtedly world class.

    I agree Barry and Adebayor aren't up to scratch but that starting 11 is certainly better than Man Uniteds and is capable of a title push. It has width, a variety of sources of creativity, a solid defensive look about it and a great finisher up front. Problem is that Mancini will never pick it because 1) he is too negative, 2) he doesn't like johnson and 3) he seems to think that gareth barry is undroppable.

    It is easy to understand why players like Tevez get so wound up by his tactics. He plays ya ya at the front of a midfield 3 when he's a DM and he has a perfectly good AM in the form of Silva, who is certainly not lazy when it comes to defending by the way.

    I'm not going to campaign for Mancini's sacking because I know we'll only end up with a similarly stubborn defensive italian, capello.

  • Comment number 75.

    ----------- ------Hart------------

    Onuoha-----K Toure------Kompany-------Kolarov

    ---------YY Toure-----De Jong------------

    ----------------Milner--------------------

    Johnson-----------------------------Silva

    ---------------Tevez---------------------

    Basically the same as Bluemoon62, but with Milner in the middle; his form before leaving Villa was good and this was the position he was showing some good ability in. I'd give Onuoha a chance at full back to devleop him, instead of punting him out on loan.

    There's so much dross in that squad it needs a big clear out - David Moyes probably still catches himself laughing when he remembers shaking the Sheikh down for over £20m for Lescott.

  • Comment number 76.

    These people who say City don't have genuine world class players really rile me. Boateng WC semi-finalist, Hart probs best keeper in the prem this year, Kompany has been one of the best CBs, Toure was one of the 'untouchables'. Silva is a WC winner, De Jong is WC finalist, YaYa CL winner, Johnson and Milner England internationals and Tevez is undoubtedly world class.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Problem is that the term "world class" is very subjective, whats world class for you might not be world class for the next man. Personally, I think theres very few "world class" players out there as I think in football terms it means the best of the best and I think theres only a handful of players out there who can be put into that category. Lumping loads of players in there just because they were in a world cup semi final or whatever devalues the term imo. Certainly classing Milner and Johnson as world class is stretching the imagination. England arent a good national football team. High time people learned this.

  • Comment number 77.

    Monday's gossip column says that "Inter Milan will have one eye on Tottenham defender Gareth Bale when they visit White Hart Lane in the Champions League this week."

    Given how well he did when they had 22 eyes on him, that's asking for trouble!

    (OT, but couldn't resist.)

  • Comment number 78.

    I didn't notice any blogs after City had won four games in a row. Actually, I didn't see any blogs after losing against Arsenal last week, when the general consensus was that we showed terrific team spirit to push Arsenal with ten men for 60 minutes.

    Why does this parasatic, knee-jerk rubbish not surprise me?

  • Comment number 79.

    The media are of course ultimately responsible for this, because they are chasing every last morsel of scandal to sell their publications with or attract listeners or viewers.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Actually, the people who buy the newspapers and/or wathch Sky TV are responsible. Without the demand, there would be no supply!

  • Comment number 80.

    I probably used the incorrect term when I said 'world-class' I agree its probably over-used. What I should have said is top 4 standard players. You often hear ignorant fans and pundits saying 'how many of city's starting eleven would get into any of the top teams?'. Which for starters is a ridiculous hypothetical question, different players have different needs, I'm sure alexandre song probably wouldn't get into our team but does that make him a worse player than barry? probably not.

    anyway my point is we definitely definitely had a good enough crop of players in our hands and therefore you can only look at the manager to look for answers as to where it's going wrong. What we need is someone inbetween hughes who was defensively naive at times and mancini who's obsession with dm's makes us very narrow and stifles our creativity.

    Our lack of goals is even more concerning now that we're looking dodgy at the back, which I blame on our narrow formation more than poor defending. The Liverpool game was a template for how we should play with 2 wide men yet he hasn't picked that team or played that system since. although I'd make room for david silva in that team at the expense of one of the 3 Defensive Mids.

    I don't read too much into the dressing room unrest as I think that stems from the bad results, bad tactics and performances rather than any genuine bad feelings between the players. I'm sure they'd be more unrest following the rooney debacle had they not won their last two games. We've played well on two occasions this year (against chelsea and liverpool) and are lucky to be where we are. I can't blame Adam Johnson for going out for a drink the day after the arsenal defeat considering he didn't play a minute having played a blinder in the europa league. Sometimes players should be allowed to question the managers decisions in a sensible manner, I'm beginning to see too many parallels between mancini and capello.

  • Comment number 81.

    @6 Sean says: "I know they've spent a ton of money, but they haven't exactly been signing the types of players Real Madrid have recently. They're a good squad, but with only 11 players on the pitch, they're short of a few really high quality players. "

    Mate, City aren't in the Champions League - they can't attract top-tier talent.

    And that's part of the problem. Mancini is being expected to make the leap from upper-mid table to champions in one season. It's not going to happen. His aim for this season should be top four - then top two, then champions.

    Of course, he won't be given time to do that - and I suspect that means that unless City get lucky and Mourinho gets bored of Real, City aren't going to win the league any time soon.

  • Comment number 82.

    city have a great squad which is still gelling. Can't believe some of the tripe on here. Mancini is still very much exploring his squad, some of whom and just come back from/are out injured. What is wrong with you people? I was at the game on saturday and wolves were great - credit them with a superb performance. city are two seasons away from a title challenge and that's if we stick with the same manager. 3rd or fourth and a good cup run (fa and/or europa)this season would represent realistic and acceptable progress. stop listening to all the media rubbish. city are one hell of a rollacoaster so stop whinging and enjoy the ride. (ps i'm older than 16 so i remember the bad old days losing two games on trot does not qualify as a crisis!!!!) LOVE all the attention though. chuckles, bring on the derby

  • Comment number 83.

    So Man City have lost two games on the trot. Big deal. Their every defeat is being treated as a crisis all of a sudden. Usually this only happens with United. I guess it shows City may be on the up after all.

  • Comment number 84.

    Phil,

    I disagree with most of what you written.

    For some reason the media wish to see CITY fail, I do not know why, in fact Hughes touched on this last year and he was right. Everything CITY do is magnified, I think Sky TV (AKA United TV) are frightened that a club is gearing up to change the "order" the natural process of the same "Old" top 4.

    CITY played without the 2 best players this weekend: De Jong who has been absolutely superb this year, not just in the ball winning category but also in possession. Tevez speaks for himself. In both cases these 2 players dictate the pace of the game, they were both missing Saturday.

    Mancini is the man.

    If the team has given up on him we would not have seen the grit that was obvious to all CITY fans against Arsenal.

    In Mancini we trus.

    Media, focus on the decline of Manchester UTD with their big debt, old players and a superstar who does not want to play for them.

  • Comment number 85.

    Well Phil and Barry are both right: Mancini is lurching almost predictably towards the precipice and the players are right behind him!

  • Comment number 86.

    Too many England boys in there - and, Mancini, like his countryman Capello, does not understand the culture. Easy on the disciplene Roberto, let the lads enjoy their pint. If Roberto is looking for serious professionals who are going to dedicate their live to football then he just needs to look at Wenger and the choices he makes..

  • Comment number 87.

    I feel bad for Citeh and Mancini. You can buy the most expensive and best players - but if they feel that they are doing the club a favour by playing for them, as they feel that the Madrids, Barcelonas, Milans and Uniteds of this world are where they deserve to be - then they are no good to anyone - they are just mercenaries.
    The squad needs to have home grown players - who play with pride for the city and the friends that they have locally and who they have to face the next day in the community. Money can attract good players - but they have to feel the pride. Gerrard and Carra bleed red - but so does Torres when he claims that he want his kids to be "scousers".
    Sometimes, it is better to have warriors (Fletcher, Park etc in my team), who may be perceived to lack quality BUT will cover every blade of grass and bust every gut on the field for the sake of the team. I used to see that with Ireland - he could have been manged better rather than be shopped off.

  • Comment number 88.

    I just think it is extremely difficult to buy a top 4 position. When you can not offer CL, you can't attract the very elite, and you end up buying very good players but at a very high price, and yet no guarantee of a top spot.

    I lived in Rome when Mancini played in Lazio under Ericsson and he was the god, fantastic oplayer and character. He has been a very succesful manager in Fiorentina,Lazio and Inter so I am convinced that he has got both the character and the skills as a top manager in Europe. Whether he can transform that into being a top manager in PL is another question, but I think Man city should look for stability. Take your time to build a team. They should probably have kept the likes of Dunne and Bellamy to keep some spirit in the team, build a top 4 team, and then reinvest in the eliteplayers. That instead af changing manager every time you loose to Wolves....

    I love Mancini, but I think Man C. will have difficulties qualifying for CL. I thnk Chelsea, arsenal and United are better teams, and City must hope for Spurs focusing on their CL campaign. (and Everton still being unlucky with injuries :))

  • Comment number 89.

    Media, focus on the decline of Manchester UTD with their big debt, old players and a superstar who does not want to play for them.

    Jesus, the man gets crucified for "constantly" writing about United and moaned at when he doesn't.

    City's problems started as soon as they were taken over. The owners saw the success of Chelsea and thought "we'll have some of that" The only problem with that is the Chelsea side that was taken over was in much better shape and was already pushing for a european place. City weren't, and it will take longer toreach that same place. Unfortunately, every time a manager is sacked it'll put the progress back at least half a season. I'm not saying whether Mancini is the man for the job or not (I hope not, as a United fan) but if he's sacked before completing half a season, you may as well write this season off as a serious challenge.

  • Comment number 90.

    Phil, for the best team I would probably have to go for;
    Given
    Zabaleta Toure Lescott Kolarov
    De Jong Toure/Milner
    Johnson Tevez Silva
    Adebayor

    Obviously there is some room for manouevre here, depending on the opposition, Tevez could play up front with Johnson, Silva and Milner around him but I think having the big man up front gives Tevez even more space to work his magic. As for the midfield you could always but Barry in there but I haven't really been impressed by him recently so who knows.

  • Comment number 91.

    A problem that is building up for City, as i see it, is that all the negative comments coming out of the club by former players is bound to put off some of the superstars they are trying to recruit. Robinho went there and was not happy from the off (clearly thought he was joining United). Tevez is unsettled, and doesnt want to be there, Santa Cruz was bought and subsequently never played. What player wants to go to a club because they are the current flavour of the month, only to be pushed into the periphery when a new star emerges...

    Yes, City have loads of money, which will attract a certain type of player, but the Ronaldos of this world are not just going to move there because of money alone, they want the prestige of playing for a great club, and City is not a great club (don't get me wrong in time i am sure they could become so, but it is not something that waving a checkbook will solve overnight).

    At the moment, as someone has already said above, is that they are only recruiting the type of people who are no longer really wanted by their current clubs - do you really think that if Fergie wanted Tevez he would have paid what was necessary, same with Toure....if Barcelona had wanted him still, would he have gone? i doubt it.






  • Comment number 92.

    #74

    "I agree Barry and Adebayor aren't up to scratch but that starting 11 is certainly better than Man Uniteds and is capable of a title push."

    The truth is our side and Arsenal's for that matter are always underrated because most of the players are made into stars at the club. So you might look at our side and say Rooney, Vidic and Evra are our only top class players but miss how good players like Hernandez, Nani, Scholes (still), Giggs, Rafael and Fletcher actually are. That's because they haven't got a huge price tag attached to them having been developed in the club (with the exception of Hernandez). But that's some City supporters for you - don't watch the game, just the transfer headlines.

    At the end of the day we will find out who is better very soon.

  • Comment number 93.

    Mancini was stupid to have a go at his players for having a drink on their night off, it was a full week before their next game and it's not like they went out and got completely plastered, they only had a couple, few enough to play golf without hangovers the next morning.

    He should be pleased that some of his team are clearly gelling socially rather than skulking off to their mansions or home countries at every opertunity.

  • Comment number 94.

    Top post #88. I agree.

  • Comment number 95.

    Personally I think it was inevitable, they bought players who only came to the club for the money on offer, they have in essence shot themselves in the foot!

    They are buying so many players and not selling any that are surplus, it reminds me of Chelsea and the previous Man City regime, too many players on too high wages..

    Money doesnt guarantee instant success you need to build a team of good players who are motivated to win and not just happy to pick up their wage packet every week.

    Frankly I think if it continues this way then great as it will only help those teams they are attmpting to challenge, also should help Spurs get above them like last season :-)

    At the end of the day you have to ask the question, would half of the players at the club gone there if the money wasnt available?

  • Comment number 96.

    @ 68 "but that starting 11 is certainly better than Man Uniteds and is capable of a title push"

    Hart & VDS are at opposite ends of the goalkeeping career ladder but Hart is certainly no better than the Dutch master.

    Vidic & Ferdinand are a million times better than any combination City could chose to put out including a reject from a side that's finished below United for 5 years in Toure, the ludicrously expensive Lescott and Kompany who may get to that level eventually. Evra is also one of the best left backs in the world along with Ashley Cole but he's not better than Bridge? At right full back United struggle to pick a stand out choice but Rafael is in Brazil squads whereas Richards couldn't get in the England set up ahead of the awful Johnson and United reserve Wes Brown.

    Johnson may be a decent prospect but he is nowhere near as productive as Nani. He's a one trick pony - cut in on the left foot and shoot. Nani scores and makes all kind of goals for club and country and is one of the best wide players in Europe. Valencia & Giggs are also better than the solid Milner who has more in common with United reserve Park than any top drawer wide man.

    City can hold up a candle in central midfield where De Jong would certainly toughen things up and Toure would add his experience and pedigree but Gareth Barry is abject yet starts pretty much every game for them. Silva also seems to have plenty of class to his game certainly more than any United midfielder bar Scholes who is sadly on his way out.

    Up front Tevez and Rooney are very similar players.

    I make that 2 ties (Hart/VDS, Rooney/Tevez), 4 positions where United are undoubtedly stronger (Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani) 2 where city are stronger (De Jong, Silva) and then 3 where there is no standout player and a variety of choices could be made (Richards/Zabayetta/Rafael/Brown), (Toure/Scholes/Fletcher/Carrick/Anderson/Barry), (Giggs/Valencia/Johnson/Park). Only city fans could believe they had the better 11 on that basis.

    Crucially United also have a better manager and more players who genuinely care for and want to play for the club rather than £. People might scoff at players like Brown, O'Shea, Fletcher & Evans but they are crucial to what Ferguson has built.

  • Comment number 97.

    I have read some tripe in my time, don't know what is worse the blog or the umpteen poor posts, you cannot all read the S** surely

  • Comment number 98.

    You doubt Mancini and Rafa managers with get knowledge of playing different tatics depending on who they are playing but back a manager like Hodgson that plays football one way and lack entertainment completely, please forgive if I rate you opinion of managers very poor, I can see you in two years time saying give Steve McClaren the england job.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think that Manciniwould have liked to have a completely different set-up so far this season but injuries to the full backs have prevented this, I think he was aiming for his Inter tactics.

    -------------Hart
    Boateng--Kolo---Kompany---Kolarov
    -------------De Jong
    ----- Yaya---------Milner
    --------------Silva
    ----------Tevez-----Balotelli/Adebayor

    With Silva in a free role and Kolarov getting forward as Maicon did at Inter.

    Unfortunately injuries and a lack of form/faith in some players has lead to a 4-3-3/4-51 being employed which has meant there's been little support for Tevez and little creativity in midfield.

    On the subject of Johnson I think it's fair;y clear why he's not starting, he's repeatedly out on the lash despite being asked explicity not to be. To use an example from Un*ted, AJ has a choice between two paths; Lee Sharpe or Ryan Giggs.

  • Comment number 100.

    "The good news is that City are in a relatively healthy fourth position in the Premier League"
    They are fourth - but not a relatively health 4th.

 

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