With Manchester City all but out of the title race, and bowing out of the Champions League at the group stage for the second year running, it is likely that the owners will relieve Roberto Mancini of his duties in summer. If Mancini is sacked, Michael Laudrup could be one of the front runners to replace him, along with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini.
Saturday’s defeat at Goodison Park will add fuel to speculation that this will be Roberto Mancini’s last season at the Etihad.
Whilst Mancini has undoubtedly done a good job in his four years at Manchester City, it is difficult to see the Abu Dhabi-based owners sticking with a manager who has visibly taken the club backwards from the previous season and failed to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League or the Premiership title. Even if City win the FA Cup, Mancini will only have matched what he achieved two years ago with a weaker squad.
If Manchester City decide to get rid of Mancini, they will probably be one of many clubs competing for Jose Mourinho’s signature. If Mourinho spurns their advances, one manager City have already been linked with is Manuel Pellegrini, with the Daily Express claiming in February that they have reached a verbal agreement with Pellegrini to take over this Summer.
The Manchester City owners would undoubtedly be impressed by Pellegrini’s record in Europe. In 2006 he took unfashionable Villarreal to the Champions League semi final, where they were narrowly defeated by Arsenal, and this year he will repeat that feat with Malaga, if he can lead them to victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarter final. On the biggest stage, at Real Madrid, Pellegrini did not disgrace himself as he lead the Galacticos to their highest La Liga total ever, 96 points. However this still wasn’t enough to prevent Barcelona winning the league. When Pellegrini was sacked, the Real Madrid directors announced that they would have kept him if the opportunity to appoint Jose Mourinho had not arisen.
Whilst Pellegrini has a good record, Manchester City may feel that it is a risk to appoint someone with no experience outside Spanish-speaking countries. If they do decide to look to the Premier League, Michael Laudrup is clearly the outstanding candidate. Having led a Swansea side expected to fight relegation to 9th place in the Premiership, and delivered the League Cup – the club’s first ever major trophy – in his first season in charge, Swansea can expect a serious battle to keep hold of Laudrup’s services whether Manchester City express interest or not, and his time in Spain with Getafe and Mallorca, as well as an illustrious playing career all over Europe, will have done his reputation no harm at all.
One club that will definitely be searching for a new manager in the summer is Chelsea. However it is far less likely that they would be interested in Laudrup than Manchester City. Roman Abramovich has always been comfortable with a big name like his previous appointments, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink, and the limited and brief backing of Roberto Di Matteo further supports this view.
Whatever happens, Laudrup’s success this season means that Swansea will struggle to hang on to him in the summer and Laudrup and Manchester City looks a more and more interesting marriage.