Manchester City have hope, so let's bang the drums for Roberto Mancini

19 October 2011 11:57
A member of the influential band The Stone Roses once said they would not play another gig until Manchester City had won the Champions League.

The group revealed they have reformed and will play two concerts in Heaton Park next year before this encounter.

The musician in question the Roses' bass guitarist Mani happens to be a United fan. He's had no reason to worry about City success in the 15 years since the band split and, with half of this group stage now behind us, he will not be too concerned that his team's rivals are ready to conquer Europe.

But City's relative struggle in the Champions League should not unnecessarily trouble anyone.

Lying in wait: Sargio Aguero (second right) pounces on Pablo Zabaleta's cross to give Manchester City a Champions League lifeline

Roberto Mancini and his players may not win the competition this season but, given the progress made under their Italian coach, it seems inconceivable that they will not have a profound impact in Europe for years to come.

City have not looked comfortable in the Champions League. Mancini has never thrived as a coach in Europe and it appears its intricacies still trouble him.

Three weeks ago in Munich, he picked the wrong team and his side lost 2-0. Here he was forced into a tactical reshuffle after half an hour.

However, regardless of what happens between now and early December in Group A, it should not be allowed to impact on Mancini's long-term standing at the Etihad Stadium.

Back-slapping: Mancini pats substitute Aguero after a job well done

He, after all, is the man who took City into the Champions League. He is the man who will take City across town to Old Trafford as Barclays Premier League leaders on Sunday.

As he previewed this tie in a tent at City's training ground on Monday morning, Mancini declared he would like 'four more years' at City.

And if the club's Middle Eastern owners are as committed to long-term strategy and stability as they say they are, they should invite their manager out to Abu Dhabi as quickly as possible, put a pen in his hand and ask him to sign.

Mancini is a likeable coach but he can also be demanding, sensitive and capricious. As he continues to move City forward he will, without doubt, receive offers from Italy.

With all this in mind, it is surely time for City to ring-fence what they have. Mancini will have 18 months left on his contract at City this Christmas and, for a manager of his standing, it is not long enough.

Anxious moments: Mancini (left), Brian Kidd and David Platt saw City go 1-0 down after four minutes

The match was a rather nervy affair. An opening draw here against Napoli and the miserable night in Munich meant this match contained drama one would not normally associate with the third group game of the competition.

It may yet pale into insignificance, however, compared to what faces City in Naples on November 22. With the Serie A team drawing with Bayern, it would appear that City's game on the Mediterranean coast may represent a knockout tie.

Mancini spoke about winning the group after Sergio Aguero's 93rd-minute winner.

Certainly that's possible. The touch off the Argentine's toe-end has changed the landscape of the competition for Mancini 's team.

However, progress to the next stage must be the priority and that, in itself, may yet be beyond them.

If City do fail to progress from the first stage of the Champions League this season, the disappointment will be enormous. It will also represent a blow to City's planning as they look to get their books in order in advance of UEFA bringing in their Financial Fair Play rules. 

Emotional release: Edin Dzeko hails Aguero after his winner

An early exit is not something Mancini will be allowed to get away with more than once. This competition really is that important, on and off the field.

But in terms of Mancini's position as he approaches his second anniversary in charge, it really should not affect anything.

A serious tilt at the Premier League would serve as decent compensation, after all.

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Source: Daily_Mail

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