That’s that then. While this lot, the admirable Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney apart, bares scant comparison to the truly great Manchester United teams I’ve seen over the last 20 years, they’ll now canter to their 20th league title.
hat does that say about Manchester City who I unashamedly tipped at the start of the season? They have some fantastic individuals — I’d pick out David Silva and Yaya Toure until their dip in form over the last couple of months — butas a ‘team’?
Much has gone wrong for the sky blue half of the City and I believe the manager Roberto Mancini will pay the price. If the worst happens, he’ll at least have seen it coming with his experience of being sacked at Inter Milan shortly after he’d taken them to a third Serie A title. The irony is Mancini’s former club might welcome him back with open arms in the summer.
But, for me, primarily amongst his many mistakes, he allowed Carlos Tevez to return to first-team duty after he should have been left to rot with the reserves. Does anyone seriously think the Argentine’s apology was genuine as opposed to an attempt to put himself in the shop window for AC Milan or another ‘suitable destination’ to come calling?
Even then, what did Mancini expect from Tevez bringing him on as substitute on Sunday with only a few minutes left to play?
And, of course, there’s ‘Super Mario’. Has any player ever been more over-indulged than this under-performing, self-obsessed, wholly immature individual? It’s far, far, too late now for Mancini to say Balotelli “probably” won’t play for the club again. The damage has already been done and, in any case, didn’t the manager say much the same for Tevez?
Whatever is said publicly — and that’s another Mancini fault because he says too much, too often, and doesn’t keep matters ‘in house’ — what has the treatment afforded to those two done for team morale? Looking at the body language at the Emirates and the lack of commitment by too many City players, you have to say not a lot.
And, when you ‘control’ two of your star players in such a shambolic way there’s no disguising who is to blame: Mancini. City’s Arab owners have few, if any, of the self-destruct buttons pressed so frequently by that man at Stamford Bridge, but they’re not blind. And if there’s the possibility of replacing the manager with the likes of Jose Mourinho, what would you do?
There is an argument that City must throw off their policies of the past with regard to managers and stick with Mancini, at least for another season. But, to do that, you’ll have to allow him to spend an awful lot more money: wisely?
No, City allowed a 13 points swing to go their neighbour’s way in little over a month. They’ve scored just five goals in their last 10 away games. The swashbuckling style of early season away from the Etihad is but a distant memory. I can’t see Mancini escaping the axe.