MAN CITY v NORWICH CITY – That was the week that was…

There’s an adage that a week is a long time in politics – they should try applying it to being a Manchester City supporter!

It seems an eternity since Roberto Mancini’s side were on the receiving end of a shock FA Cup Final defeat to the now relegated Pie Eaters of ‘Wi-gone’ – come to think of it, it seems a lifetime since City were Roberto Mancini’s men.

The wounds are still so very raw after the Etihad bloodletting that has seen the man the fans loved, removed as manager of Manchester City.

It’s been seven days of rumour and subsequent revelation as the Italian icon’s marriage to City and a sky blue heaven was unceremoniously dissolved with undue and alarming haste.

There’s quickie divorces…and then there’s being sacked by Manchester City. Yes, there had been almost never ending speculation about the future of Mancini and, what is now rather unkindly being referred to as his ‘Mafia’, but there was still a certain shock factor as events unraveled at the climax of an under-achieving season.

Like the overwhelming majority of City fans, I sang his name from the terraces, I admired him for making my team – Manchester City – for far too long the laughing stock of English football, the Champions of England, and for delivering a beautiful, breathtaking brand of stylish play.

I was – and always will be – eternally grateful to a man who not only implanted a dream in my heart, he actually made the bloody thing come true on May 13, 2012. Unless my mind is obliterated by ill health or annihilated by Alzheimer’s Disease in later years, that electrifying, almost life inducing ‘Aguerooooooo’ moment will never leave me.

For that alone I will always – always – say a heartfelt ‘grazie’ to Roberto Mancini. Similarly, albeit to a slightly lesser degree, I will never forget two glorious single goal Wembley wins en-route to FA Cup glory in May, 2011, and a satisfyingly moist conclusion to a 35-year trophy drought!

It was a measure of the man – cynics might argue an inspired public relations ploy – that Mancini took out a full page advert in the Manchester Evening News this week to say ‘Ciao’ to City’s supporters.

I prefer to think of it as a sincere gesture from an individual who recognised and treasured a special relationship – a certain affinity – with the fans.

Perversely it’s that same selection of ‘stakeholders’ – the ticket-paying fans – who would ordinarily wield most influence on the employment status of a manager of a football club.

Mancini is nigh on unique in the modern game that he was fired despite the backing of the MCFC loving masses. The default mechanism is usually the opposite – the supporters let the Board know in no uncertain times when they’ve tired of the incumbent manager and it’s time for change.

The only other example of recent times that springs to mind is that of Roberto De Matteo at Chelsea…what is it about these Italian chappies that breeds such passion in the rank and file following?

The banners were out in force at Reading on a monsoon-like Tuesday night – ‘GRAZIE MANCINI’ ‘FORZA MANCINI’ ‘BOBBY MANC’ – as the familiar strains of ‘Mancini, whoa, Mancini…’ boomed around the Madejski Stadium.  

It’s a genuine sadness that as we prepare to bring the curtain down with a season finale against Norwich, Mancini is no longer present, if not only for the fans to pay homage to him in person.

Having said all of that, having supported him so vehemently, having sung his name to the rafters, having shared sumptuous moments of celebration, having delighted in his personal presence, having reveled in the whole Roberto rollercoaster ride for the past three-and-a-half years – it has to be said that Mancini’s departure IS right for Manchester City.

Oh I wish it were not so, but as a clearer – ironically murky – picture emerges of life behind the closed doors of Carrington, where the echoes from the Etihad dressing room are now beginning to reach the hearing of the City support, it is crystal clear that fractured relationships and a breakdown in communications meant managerial change was inevitable.

I am not going to rake over the coals of anecdotes, gossip, tittle tattle – call it what you will – that have continued to seep out about arrogance, tantrums and truculence.

All I know is that Mancini will be a major part of Manchester City’s history for eternity. He has built a platform from which Manuel Pellegrini can – and will – take City to a different and stunningly successful level.

Under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour, the stewardship of Khaldoon Al Mubarak and the day-to-day direction of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, Manchester City could not be in better hands.

Their selection of Manuel Pellegrini as the next manager is an inspired and wise choice. Has anyone had a bad word for Mr Pellegrini since his name was mentioned as the man most likely?

The 59-year old Chilean earned the nickname of ‘The Engineer’ – why? That’s easy, he studied engineering at the conclusion of his playing career – boom boom!

However, a more apt application is because he adopts an analytical and intelligent approach when setting out his teams. He is renowned for producing teams with defensive discipline and attacking flair.

He is the epitomy of calm – one might even venture to say ‘cool’ – respected and admired by all. Above else, he has a reputation for superb man-management and motivational skills – in marked contrast to his predecessor – at the Etihad.

He will lead City to the metaphorical equivalent of the sunny climes he will leave behind in Malaga and make the Premier League too hot for the likes of Moyes and Mourinho.

But all of that must go on the backburner as City, under the temporary leadership of  Brian Kidd, aim to end the season on a winning note and conceivably reduce Manure’s winning points margin to a single digit. If City can better the retiring Glaswegian pensioner’s result at the Hawthorns today, it will deliver a more respectable complexion to the final standings.

Joe Hart and his defensive corps will be seeking to clip the Canaries’ wings and keep a 19th clean sheet – the best record for a third year running in the PL. The Sky Blue rearguard have conceded 31 goals all season, six fewer than the next best defence.

Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic could return after missing the 2-0 win at Reading.  Pablo Zabaleta should also be back after suspension and Gael Clichy could be celebrating signing his new four-year deal in the left wing back position.

Injury could rule out Kolo Toure from a farewell appearance as his four years at the club draw to a close.

It could be the final game in a City shirt for a number of players – but who knows with the managerial change?

Edin Dzeko looked a certainty to move on this summer, with Dortmund in the frame. Speculation abounds if Carlos Tevez will ship out to Monaco with just a year left on his deal. Similarly Joleon Lescott and Gareth Barry will be entering the final year of their respective contracts next season.

Samir Nasri was odds on to ship out to PSG or Monaco but a late season surge of form could yet salvage his career at the Etihad – so much rests on the shoulders of Messrs Pellegrini and Begiristain.

Sergio Aguero’s future could also be in the melting pot with Real Madrid seeking to exploit domestic challenges in the adored Argentine’s family life.

At the other end of the equation are rumours of possible in-bound City recruits. Falcao, Cavani, Isco, Reus, Navas, Fernandinho, Coentrao– it’s a mouthwatering array of  A-list players who would enhance City no end, placing the onus on the Trafford Troglodytes to keep the PL trophy nice and shiny in readiness for its return.

For now, let’s content ourselves with stuffing the Norfolk fowl, going through the 80+ point mark and having an enjoyable Sunday afternoon jaunt in the sun.

14 Comments

  1. Pingback : MAN CITY v NORWICH CITY – That was the week that was…(RBNR) | Quick News

  2. May 19, 2013  9:52 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    It's been such a tumultuous week that I was about to berate you regarding Zaba and the fact that he's still suspended. Then I remembered on Tuesday we played, he was suspended and we cemented second. Maybe I've contracted a mild form of "oldtimers disease".
    Do you think the new manager will be in place soon enough to enable swift dealings in the transfer market? I've said before I think this is imperative. We do not want a repeat of last seasons panic buying debacle. Players must gel over pre-season so we can hit the ground running come KO in August. Today I will be a little wistful about what might of been, but as ever looking forward to what the future holds.
    One more match report from your good self then a relatively fallow summer. Enjoy your break. Keep me posted with anything of importance please. Cheers David.

    • May 20, 2013  10:59 am by David Walker Reply

      I'll endeavour to keep RBNR ticking over during the summer - there should be plenty going on at MCFC so no shortage of content, albeit some speculative and some factual. I could do with an easing off to be honest,as it is time consuming, especially with the day job etc. What I really need is for folk who like to read RBNR to go to it pro-actively - it takes longer tweeting it than it does writing it! That element is not sustainable and I can't and won't be doing that in 2013/14. Hopefully links with the OSC site will help and generate RTs. Thanks for all your support during 2012/13.

  3. May 19, 2013  9:58 am by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    "Has anyone had a bad word for Mr Pellegrini since his name was mentioned?"

    Give it time David, give it time!

    Do hope today passes off peacefully, and the Sky cameras are not able to focus on a "disgruntled" bunch of City supporters actively protesting against the club itself. A nice tribute to Mancini is fitting and deserved, but this must not turn into another media slag-fest of City!

    Grazie Roberto, will never forget you, but am looking forward to the next phase of Manchester City (despite the steep rise in my ST renewal price!) CTID

    • May 20, 2013  11:02 am by David Walker Reply

      Typical of the UK football media. They hound Mancini, they exaggerate and exacerbate every negative element connected with MCFc and thenhave the temerity to have a pop at the Club when they inevitable parting with the manager arrives. We need a siege mentality up until a time when the media has to change its stance on City - three consecutive PL titles should capture their attention.

  4. May 19, 2013  10:06 am by Guvnor Reply

    Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, Not sure about these two yet David, I am however hoping you are right.
    Once again a good read.

    • May 20, 2013  11:05 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Guvnor - yes, it's early doors but logic dictates that these guys know what they're about and what they're seeking to achieve for MCFC. Khaldoon is a very shrewd cookie and, as big a fan I was of Roberto Mancini, it had all gone horribly wrong behind the scenes - apparently. We all feel as flat as a snake's belly at the moment - myself included - but I think we have grounds for huge optimism going forward.

  5. May 19, 2013  10:16 am by Mike JacksonLeafield (@mikejl67) Reply

    Good read again David, striking the right chord as always.

    • May 20, 2013  11:05 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Mike - always nice to have encouragement.

  6. May 19, 2013  10:45 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    Great read again David,what a week it has been quite bizzare really with rumors and counter rumors which to be honest i've decided not to pay too much attention to.In the board and others i trust to do the right things all i ask is that things,manager and player comings and goings,are all sorted quickly and a good pre season can be done ready for the challenges of 2013/14. Onwards and upwards CTWD.

    • May 20, 2013  11:07 am by David Walker Reply

      Yes Andy, speed of thought and deed are essential. New Head Coach (not manager - big difference) and sort the churn of players out in June and early July. Defending the title was always going to be a challenge - sadly one that eluded Roberto - but we WILL rise again and sooner than the Reds would like!

  7. May 19, 2013  1:02 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    It was Harold Wilson who said 'a week is a long time in politics'.....think this can be applied to City as well!
    I just hope after due respect to Mancini, that our crowd get behind the team, and cheer them to victory.
    Remember, without HHSM, these best years of our lives wouldn't exist.

    • May 20, 2013  11:10 am by David Walker Reply

      Harold was also known to say '...& I think I said this at the Blackpool conference...' Sorry, just me being daft. There is a dawning of reality now and City fans are coming to terms with Bobby's departure and the reasons therein. I for one am going to put a rather large wager on MCFC CHAMPIONS 2013/14.

      • May 20, 2013  9:51 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

        Might have to join you in placing that bet. Believe we are currently favourites, but the odds will surely shorten even more if we land half of our purported transfer targets.

        Bad season? Pah! Seen far worse. The future is bright

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