Roberto Mancini paid the price for transfer failures at Man City
Sacked Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini paid the price for missing out on top targets & settling for a series of average signings
Roberto Mancini’s sacking is harsh treatment for the manager who guided Manchester City to their holy grail but the Italian has paid the price for his unconvincing transfer record.
The 48-year-old led the Citizens to their first Premier League crown in 2012, ending their 44-year wait to win the top-flight title and demoting bitter rivals Manchester United to second place.
With the Eastlands outfit knocking the Red Devils off their perch, Mancini had the chance to build a side capable of sustained success in English – and European – football last summer.
Mancini wanted Roma dynamo Daniele De Rossi, Belgium star Eden Hazard and Arsenal’s prolific forward Robin van Persie but ended up with Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair.
It is a bone of contention for the former Inter Milan manager, who in April, warned the Citizens that they could not afford to waste another transfer window and simply had to land their top targets.
Mancini needed reminding that he still spent near to £45m last summer.
Instead of landing a stellar name to help share the workload imposed on the inconsistent Samir Nasri and injury-plagued duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva, City settled for tin pot transfers who were incapable of providing adequate back-up.
Having missed out on a 20th Premier League crown on goal difference, Sir Alex Ferguson moved swiftly in the transfer market to sign Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell and Van Persie.
In particular, the Netherlands international was instrumental to guiding United back to the summit of the English top-flight with 25 Premier League strikes as City struggled to match United’s goal-scoring heights.
But even before City’s underwhelming arrivals last year, Mancini’s reign had been plagued by unconvincing recruits, such as Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov.
When Ferguson took charge of United in 1986, he oversaw a clear-out of the players he deemed to be central to the club’s ‘drinking culture’, such as Paul McGrath, and brought in replacements of the likes of Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister.
At City, Mancini entertained too many divisive characters who swam against the tide and disrupted the harmony at the club, preventing the Italian boss from fostering a real team ethic at the Citizens.
Balotelli and Carlos Tevez head that list. Mancini deserves credit for the authoritarian manner with which he dealt with both Tevez’s golfing leave and Balotelli’s numerous on-field and off-field controversies last season.
But where Ferguson would have shipped any player he felt to be pulling in the other direction out of Old Trafford – such as David Beckham and Jaap Stam – Mancini persisted, before showing Balotelli the door in January.
In fact, City’s standout players during their run to the Premier League title were in fact largely Mark Hughes’ signings – Gareth Barry, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott and Pablo Zabaleta.
It’s the aforementioned quartet who formed the core of the title-winning side and embodied the never-say-die attitude which resulted in a 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 campaign.
Of course, there are other factors which led to Mancini’s dismissal.
Whilst Ferguson carefully utilised the media, Mancini publicly criticised the players and hierarchy as abject performances raised questions about his ability to squeeze the best out of his expensively-assembled squad.
There’s no doubt that the former Leicester City midfielder deserved more time 366 days after winning the Premier League title, but failure on all fronts this season provided the owners’ with an excuse to wield the axe.
And when Mancini reflects on his reign, the Italian will rue the first-choice signings which he missed out on last summer – particularly Van Persie – and a series of average arrivals throughout his three-and-a-half year reign.