It pains me to say it, in fact it physically hurts to praise anything about Manchester City, but I’ve always had a bit of grudging respect for the way Roberto Mancini handled the title run-in last season. When the pressure was on he not only delivered the results but there’s a case to be made that his ‘we can’t win the title’ mantra may have actually worked in City’s favour, relieving them somewhat of the expectation while lulling the Reds into something of a small sense of security.
Mancini’s record at City is pretty impressive, two trophies in less than four seasons, Champions League football delivered after his first full campaign and some free flowing attacking football which at times would be great to watch if it didn’t make me feel queasy.
We may be able to appreciate Mancini’s ‘mind games’ last season- well not appreciate them but acknowledge they could have been effective- but this time round it seems the charm and praise for his rivals has given way to ranting about his own team, never a good sign in a title race.
In the aftermath of City’s 3-1 loss to Southampton at St Mary’s Mancini seemed to have wandered onto fanzone as he gave the sort of ‘appraisal’ normally reserved by the boss for the bloke from accounts who’s been stealing from the company.
“We just didn’t play,”
“We played maybe with two players. When it is 11 against two, it is difficult to win.”
So that’s at least nine players publicly chastised, but Mancini wasn’t finished there.
“We conceded two goals that were incredible for a top team like us.”
Turning his attention to Hart’s blunder for Southampton’s second, Mancini noted:
“It’s not strange because he did two or three mistakes this year and this is not good for us,” he said. “Joe is a good keeper but a goalkeeper can’t do a mistake like this. Probably we think because we won last year we are top players, but to stay at the top you need to work like we did last year.”
The City boss may not have said anything revelatory but the fact he’s so openly critical of his players, particularly Hart who’s always struck me as being a bit of an emotional guy, makes me wonder whether Mancini’s mask of coolness is slipping….
Am I overstating the case or is Mancini doing a ‘Rafa’? Answers on a brick through the usual window please, or comment below: