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Masterplan or mistake? Mancini faces key clash

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24 Sep 2010 09:09:51

| Submit Comments| Comments (29)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapIf City trot out and beat the pants off Chelsea, Roberto Mancini will be hailed as the shrewdest of managers. Should they lose, he will be condemned as the man who tossed away the Blues? biggest chance to rip up the Stretford End?s ?34 Years banner? before it ticks over to ?35?. On such knife edges do managerial careers teeter and totter. Mancini?s late decision to clear out all of his first teamers ? apart from Adam Johnson ? for the team which lost at West Bromwich Albion, ended in narrow defeat. That ended City?s run in the cup before it had even begun, with European involvement meaning they were just four ties from Wembley without kicking a ball in the competition. And, while the League Cup is now treated with dismissive contempt by many Premier League managers, it was a bold decision by Mancini to join their ranks. As the last trophy won by the Blues, courtesy of Dennis Tueart?s stunning overhead kick in 1976, it still holds plenty of sway in the hearts of their fans. It certainly resonates for traditional supporters ? the type who don?t think Nick Hornby invented football support. There were over 2,000 such fans at the Hawthorns on Wednesday night, reminiscing about Wembley ?76 or hell-bent on wiping out the memories of last year?s bruising and marginal defeat by United at the semi-final stage. They could barely believe the side which Mancini put out, a team which had even City?s media staff reaching for the phone to determine personal details. It is always heartening and uplifting to see young players filter through into the first team, especially when you have a youth tradition as strong and important as that at City.This wasn?t filtering, it was a deluge. The back four averaged 20 years between them, with two making debuts and a third, Greg Cunningham, having just 45 minutes of comfortable FA Cup action behind him.


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