In Wednesday’s Cutter Didsbury Dave caused quite a stir by detailing exactly why Manchester City were correct in sacking their title-winning coach Roberto Mancini. Here fellow blue Skashion launches a counter-argument…
Gutted. There is no word more apt to describe my feelings of Mancini’s sacking. Gutted is exactly the right word. It feels as though someone is pulling me down via the assistance of my smaller intestine. It is painful and depressing feeling which generates anxiety permeating outwards from the approximate region of the pit of your stomach. It is a feeling which contrasts hugely (generally speaking) with the Mancini years.
The two years proceeded this one have been unquestionably the best of my life as a City fan. Beating the rags en-route to a final, and turning them over 6-1 and 1-0 on the way to the most exciting title finale there has ever been. Two magical seasons. They will be neigh-on impossible to top. Perhaps actually impossible. I seriously doubt we’ll be waiting forty-four years for a title again and the odds of them coinciding with a last gasp winner to steal the title from our bitter already celebrating rivals means we’ll probably never again feel the elation quite the magnitude we did at 4:54 PM on the 13th of May 2012. What is more pressing though, is not the manner in which we win the title, but how often we win the title.
There is nothing wrong with being Chelsea and sacking a manager every season say critics of stability. After all, look at the success they’ve had. Oh I beg to differ. This is not to say we are becoming Chelsea. We are not. Yet. However, there most certainly is something wrong with being Chelsea and it is very important that we recognise that there is. Since Mourinho left they have won the title just once, for a net outlay of £236m. From two titles in three seasons when Mourinho left, to just one title in six seasons after spending £236m across those barren six seasons. There is definitely something wrong with that. Where’s the progress? Of course they’ve had cups to compensate for that, including the biggest prize of all, the Champions League. However, the title is THE measure of a consistently good side. Chelsea failed to emulate the rags and Liverpool in their dominance of the title, despite continued extravagant spending. There is something wrong with following in Chelsea’s footsteps and those who say there isn’t, are not ambitious enough. This also strikes me, as being exactly the wrong time to sack a manager. Ferguson is leaving, finally. Chelsea too, will have a new manager. Arsenal will no doubt be hampered again by their lack of spending. It should have been a case of a few early transfers in key positions and a meaningful pre-season in which to trial formations with the new signings i.e. the opposite of this season’s summer travesty, and on we go to the second title in three years. That was my genuine expectation of next season. It isn’t anymore.
Quite aside from my generally supportive stance of stability, it seems evident that Pellegrini is Mancini’s heir apparent. This worries me hugely. We are going from a manager with a 60% win ratio at City to a man with 40% at Malaga. From a manager who’s won four titles and five domestic cups in two of Europe’s major leagues to a man who has won none in roughly the same timeframe. We look to Soriano and Txiki who likely jointly made this decision, they have form for this. So far, they’ve had success in making unorthodox appointments. They appointed Rijkaard and Guardiola who went on to astounding success at Barcelona. Perhaps we should take it on face value that they are genii and we should not doubt them. However, that was Barcelona. We are not Barcelona. Barcelona had a caretaker manager for three months this season whose only previous managerial experience was to relegate a third-flight Spanish side, and Mourinho, the best manager in the world, did not catch up by one single point in those three months. That’s how self-sustaining Barcelona are. Does anyone really believe we could have Paul Ince as caretaker and Mourinho fail to make any ground on us at all? I highly doubt it. There is nothing I’d like more than to be proved empathically wrong and for Pellegrini to be the final proof of Soriano and Txiki’s incredible wisdom. Indeed, Pellegrini may get a bump in his ability to do so in the form of a transfer kitty that Mancini wanted as champions and didn’t get. It would be absurd to give Pellegrini a net spend of £14m (as Mancini had this season) and for his players to come in after the season had already started. I hope this is not a mistake we will be repeating but speaking of repeating mistakes, this does feel like City shooting themselves in the foot again. This is where we put Liverpool and our Trafford-based swampdwelling rivals to shame in their consistency. We are remarkably consistent at shooting ourselves in the foot and have been for around four decades sadly.
I started with exploring the word gutted. I will end by exploring the word insanity. Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We appear to be pre-emptively sacking a manager again, and expecting a different result. One can only hope that Soriano and Txiki are walking on the right side of the line that famously separates genius from insanity.
I do not blame the Outers. I think they are wrong of course, but I do not blame them. I was all for the sacking of Mark Hughes. I am not making, nor will I ever make, a case for stability at all cost. There needs to be general progress, nuanced against other factors, but the progress need not be linear, and I think the idea of seasonal targets is counter-productive and counter-intuitive in the world of football. There is not a single manager alive who has never experienced a season of regression, or a trophyless season. Thus, Mancini has been judged against too harsh a standard.