In the wake of an FA Cup final defeat when his team seemed not to turn up, Roberto Mancini had a microphone shoved under his nose and was quizzed as to whether he thought he would still be the Manchester City boss next season. 'Of course,” he said, dismissing the speculation swirling around his job, with a casual wave of his hand. Unfortunately for the sometimes volatile Italian, the decision may not be in his hands.
It was always going to be a roller coaster ride for Mancini when he joined the Eastlands club, and it seemed like he was on a downward run when, after the Wembley game, he complained that the hierarchy at the club at done nothing to quell the unsettling speculation that at season end the Italian would be moved out and replaced by Manuel Pellegrini. It was a statement that, although emotional and understandable, would hardly have endeared him to his bosses.
Although Mancini remains demonstrably popular with the Manchester City fans, it could be argued that his three years in charge have not achieved all that they could have. They landed the title in heart-stopping manner last season, edging out near neighbours on goal difference in the final minutes of the final game, to add to their FA Cup win the previous season. A haul of two trophies in three years though may not be considered sufficient return on the massive investment made at the club, especially given the club’s tepid performances in Europe. The desire of the club to drive forward therefore may mean a change in the hot seat.
Over in Spain, speculation has been widespread that Pellegrini will be quitting Malaga at the end of the season for pastures new. Recent talk linked him with Chelsea, and even a return to Madrid – where he once had a stunningly successful season, only to lose out in the league to Guardiola’s Barca, before losing his job to Mourinho. Of late however all of the talk is of Manchester City being the Chilean’s next post of call. With City having imported Spaniards to run the football side of the club, it’s probably no surprise that they have gone back to the Iberian peninsula for their next manager.
It may well be right that Mancini leads City out next season, and all the Pellegrini talk turns out to be constructed of smoke and mirrors, but there has to be a chance that the Italian’s time has run out City may be replacing a hot-head manager with a Chilean.