Roberto Mancini: Never Forgotten
The 13th May 2012 was a day that will be forever etched into football folklore. Manchester City sealed their first title for 44 years after a 94th minute goal in the final game of the season from Argentine starlet Sergio Aguero smashed the ball past Paddy Kenny to seal the win. This was to be Roberto Mancini's second trophy in his second full season at City, and one which would make Blues fans around the world fall in love with him.
Exactly a year onwards, 13th of May 2013 was one to forget for many City fans. In the early evening, their biggest rivals Manchester United were conducting the victory parade around the city to celebrate regaining the Premier League title. This was bad enough on the anniversary of City's title victory. But then, something even worse happened. At around half past 10 on the night of May 13th, an official statement was released by the club confirming that Mancini had been relieved of his role as manager, coming two days after a shock FA Cup Final defeat to Wigan at Wembley. The timing came as a shock to the football world, who widely expected him to stay until the end of the season.
Despite City's failings in the 2012-13 season, where they finished far behind rivals United and failed to win any of the other domestic cups, or even pass the group stages in the Champions League, the Italian Roberto Mancini will also be held closely in the hearts of fans for the success he brought to the club. In three and a half years at the Blues, he broke City's trophy-less spell, and finally brought the league title back to City for the first time in 44 years. Anyone who does that deserves praise, and will endear themselves to the fans, which is exactly what he got. The fans at the Etihad will never forget the hard work and dedication Mancini showed whilst still at the club.
It was never always smooth sailing for Mancini at the club. Throughout his reign at the Citizens, the media always seemed to be out to have a go at Mancini despite all his accomplishments. This was particularly noticeable in the days leading up to his sacking. The day before the FA Cup final, rumours were broken in Spain that Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini was set to replace Mancini as City boss at the end of the season. This seems too much of a coincidence, colliding with the cup final like it did, trying to overshadow City's big day like this. Following the cup final which City lost to a deserving Wigan team, the majority of newspapers and other news sources were littered with reports that Mancini was set to be sacked within 48 hours, putting these stories on a continuous loop, as if they were trying to push him over the edge. Hardly seems fair in my opinion to treat a manager with such high pedigree like the media did.
It's not just the trophies that Mancini won the club that meant the fans fell in love with him. It was the style of play that he had the players playing. Ok, it might not have always worked, as we saw this season, but at times the football that the City players were demonstrating was beautiful to watch, and some of the best in England. City fans have been through so much of the bad times for so long, to be able to see some of the best football in the country being played by some of the best players in the world in the sky blue of City is something to die for. Not many managers would be able to bring that style of play to City, but Mancini managed it, and he should be heralded for that.
However much City fans are hurt by this news, myself included, we have to face up to the fact that this was unfortunately inevitable. After the poor season City have had in terms of trophies, there was always going to be a high risk that the hierarchy at City would deem the progress made during the competitive season insufficient, and move him along to replace him with a new man. But after the Cup Final defeat, Mancini complained about the lack of support given to him over the speculation that Pellegrini was in line to take the reins for the 2013-14 season. I can't tell you how much I agree with this point (the club should have quashed the rumours when they started in my view), there is no way any manager can make comments like that and get away with them, so I'm afraid this was always going to happen, be it sooner or rather than later.
The lack of support Mancini received from the board in regard to the safety of his job is one of the things that really annoys me. Even if they had made up their mind on if they were going to relieve him of his duties, they still should have denied any speculation. After all he did for the club, that is the least he deserved. I mean, come on, this is a guy who's won you two trophies in three and a half years. Don't you think that deserves as least some some sort of recognition? However, instead of stopping the speculation, the board somehow add more fuel to the rumour mill. Allegations were made that they had met with representatives of Manuel Pellegrini soon before the cup final, which fueled yet more speculation a deal was close to being done. The prolonged silence from the hierarchy at the Blues also showed a sense of reluctance from the senior members of the club to assure Mancini of his position, showing they probably had plans to replace him once the season was up. All this sums up one thing for me: the board handled this wrong. They've far from covered themselves with glory with the way they treated Mancini, and it's shocking how badly supported he was by the owners.
But despite all this, Mancini still stayed. It's difficult to think why if I'm honest. I certainly wouldn't be able to stay! He could easily have resigned and let that be done with it, what with all the negative media attention and such. But he still stayed. And I can only think of one reason: the fans. He knows how much all the City fans love him, and that was enough to persuade him to keep going. Maybe being sacked has disillusioned him with the club, and maybe he's forgotten just how much all the fans here love him. And that is why I hope that somehow, somewhere, he has read this, because I want him to remember us. We will always remember him for what he did for us, and I want him to remember the support we showed him all through his reign.
by Ben Warner