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Man City lacking a 'Special One'

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Robbo Robson | 14:07 UK time, Thursday, 25 February 2010

I saw clips of Cheryl Cole returning to our shores at some airport or other with a clutch of photographers crashing and flashing away around her like the dark cloud that used to hang over the 'gruesome twosome' in the Wacky Races.

Poor lass, thought I, and considered offering a broad Teesside shoulder and a box of mansize tissues.

I doubt Mrs. C will get much peace. Tattoos, eh. I've not seen one that doesn't look like a mistake. Apparently, Ashley's friends say Cheryl's Mum moving in hasn't helped. And that's about the only time I've ever agreed with the bloke.

Nowt kills the passion in a relationship more than knowing your lass's Mam's in the next room watching Emmerdale.

What they need is someone to push them off the back pages, if not the front. Which brings us to Jose Mourinho.

He's a curious cove, isn't he? As with most strong characters he's a sort of love-him-or-hate-him type -like Michael Winner.

Mourinho's slightly different in that I both love and hate him. Even the pub telly's widescreen isn't big enough to encompass the man's ego.

I swear he's as camera-aware as Marilyn Monroe in her pomp. That motionless response to Milito's opener, save for some pursing of the lips, was typical. He's a ham of the old school.

And he's started doing that weird thing that blinkered sportspeople do of talking about himself in the third person - "Mourinho does not lose at Stamford Bridge", he said.

Still, the man knows how to manage. He's got the least Italian team in Serie A history and they are a proper Jose team: unfussy, workmanlike, with enough skill in there to make the most of the chances that come their way. His brilliance at Chelsea was to shape a bunch of apparently mercenary millionaires into a side that worked for each other.

Critics damn him by saying anyone could've won the title with that amount of money behind them, and, yes, even Avram Grant got them to a Champs League final, but you only have to look up to the blue half of Manchester to see how tricky these things can be.

I wonder whether the Fand-Abu-Dhabi-Dozies wanted to get Mourinho in the first place but googled the wrong bloke. What they've ended up with is something which on the surface is very similar. Mancini had the luxuriant salt-and-pepper hairdo, a kind of brooding only-George-Clooney-could-play-me-in-the-film-of-my-life presence on the touchline, and a team with pretty dour intentions. However, that's where the comparison ends.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini
Roberto Mancini is under pressure following the FA Cup defeat to Stoke

The lads pulling on the sky blue shirts look devoid of threat, save for the perennially troubled Bellamy. At least when Sparky was in charge they were losing games 4-3. I'm shocked by how negatively set up City are.

As a player, the manager was one of them classic Italian playmakers: neat, innovative, lightweight and prone to vanish from games at moments when they were most needed. I'm thinking del Piero or Totti, or the only duck-shooting Buddhist in the world, Roberto Baggio, until the 1994 World Cup reinvented him (penalty miss aside).

But at least Mancini was unpredictable and forward-looking. His team barely look sideways. It's as if the midfield is a series of cloned Ray Wilkinses.

The lads that have left good homes for richer pastures - Barry, Lescott, Toure - seem to be playing like there's too much weight in their pockets and Adebayor looked like Mancini had put him in solitary. Even Everton have played two upfront a bit this season. No wonder a stray hand got Adebayor into bother.

Worse still, Mancini seems to have even less tactical inspiration from off the bench than a previous occupant of the hotseat, dear old Sven.
Manchester City fans have always deserved our sympathy. Their club has flailed around for a long time in the shadow of the red half, like some irritating younger brother desperate for attention.

The transparent policy of parachuting Mancini in for a handful of cosy fixtures has not worked. The first sign of hardship and his players have crumbled like the last digestives in the packet. Of course, it doesn't help that Stoke City have shown them up. Here's a team that does all the things that the current City team can't.

Pulis has hard workers, a gameplan, a bench with something different on it, and the face of a pityless PE teacher. Oh and Rory Delap.

I have a theory about them throw-ins. Keepers get foxed 'cos the trajectory of the ball is different to a free-kick. I reckon it dips sooner than your defenders are expecting, and the likes of Shawcross and Fuller know this.

It's becoming as mysterious as the Shane Warne flipper now and the only answer is to invest in a bowling machine that can propel a football in the same way as the mighty Delapidator. Stoke would've beaten City without Delap last night, mind.
Mancini is finding that wealth doesn't create an instant team.

City need a Mourinho.


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