Media pressure on Mancini is unwarranted
Two bad results featuring one bad performance appears to have been enough for Roberto Mancini to be deemed the Premier League manager “under pressure”. A week before losing to Wolves we were sitting in second place and seen as the biggest threat to Chelsea.
Such is the way the way the media works. Liverpool have won their last two games and the spotlight needs to be shone on someone other than Roy Hodgson. Many of those now knocking Mancini after two defeats will argue elsewhere against kneejerk reactions and sacking managers without giving them time.
Stat of the moment is Mancini having 17 points from 10 games, while Mark Hughes had 19 from 10 last season. Quite correct, and the owners were happy with Hughes at that point.
It was the ensuing run of one win in ten league games which did for him. If Mancini only wins one of his next eight games, then I’m sure he’ll expect a similar fate.
Is there simply a fondness for Hughes or a whiff of xenophobia about the comparison being made between Mancini and the British manager? Hughes had 26 points from 16 games when the decision was made to fire him following defeat to Spurs. Nobody pointed out that this was inferior to Sven’s 30 points. Instead there was a media outcry about our foreign owners not giving the manager enough time, and blaming ill-disciplined Brazilian players.
Incidentally Sven had 22 points from his first 10 games, which just goes to show what a blistering start he made to his City career. And that with a last minute trolley dash of new signings.
As for Mancini’s new signings, talk of all the money spent conveniently ignores the fact that 3 of the 6 players (Kolarov, Boateng and Balotelli) have barely featured due to injury. A fourth, Silva, has taken time to adapt to the Premier League and only started to come good in last couple of weeks. Mancini has managed this easing in process well and we are now seeing the benefits in the performances of the Spaniard.
There’s also something a little unedifying about the speed with which Balotelli is being criticised by our media. Things they could bear in mind are:
- He’s returning from injury and not yet fully fit.
- He’s joined a new team and needs time to familiarise his game with that of his team-mates.
- He’s still a youngster, having only just turned 20.
- He’s only played one full game in the Premier League, the toughest league in the world.
- Having joined late in the Summer, he missed pre-season with his new team-mates.
Compare his situation with how long it’s taking Rooney and Torres to get their form back after injury. If he’s finding his best form by Christmas the young Italian will have done well.
Talk of player unrest is something we see with any side containing big name players that isn’t at the top of it’s game. It happened with Chelsea prior to the appointment of Guus Hiddink, and continues at Anfield.
The complaints about double training sessions are regurgitated from last season, when they took place on Tuesdays if there were no midweek games. There hasn’t been any this season, but you don’t seem to hear that being reported.
Criticism is made of Mancini being aloof and authoritative. Ferguson, Capello, Moyes and others are hardly easy going either. Managerial toughness is no handicap to success. When reults go badly, a more relaxed style will be equally criticised for being too indulgent of players – just ask Sven.
This isn’t to say Mancini hasn’t made mistakes in the last couple of games. Switching Barry to left-back against Arsenal rather than bringing on Bridge or Lescott made Nasri’s job in opening the scoring a lot easier.
Boateng at left-back, a midfield diamond devoid of pace, Zabaleta for Adebayor, Balotelli staying on for 90 minutes – all were questionable managerial decisions against Wolves. Mancini will need to up his game for the next two league games.
Without de Jong, the midfield looks sluggish defensively and resolving this could be crucial. If Mancini does, then it’s quite feasible City could beat West Brom and United, particularly if Tevez returns for the latter.
Having managed Inter and spent his playing career under media scrutiny, at least this situation is nothing new to Mancini, and we can be sure he’s not going to be fazed by it. Mancini tends to get most things right tactically and his team is likely to return to it’s usual levels of organisation.
With this, the results will come and that’s why he’s likely to be around for a while yet. We’re in the top four now and, so long as we stay there, Sheikh Mansour is highly unlikely to make another mid-season managerial change.