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FA Cup a necessity for Manchester City & Mancini

This time last year Mancini was left facing down the barrel of Sheikh Mansour’s loaded gun. He dodged that bullet with the most extraordinary season end we are ever likely to see. 12 months on and he finds himself in an even more precarious position.

Given the money available to Manchester City, and the squad they had going into last summer, they should certainly not be 15 points behind Manchester United with 8 or so games to play.
Mancini must be held responsible for their relatively tame defence of their Premier League title, and there are several reasons for this.
Lack of top quality signings in the summer was the first issue. Javi Garcia arrived with a big reputation and an equally big price tag, but has looked way out of his depth in his first season in English football, which hasn’t softened the blow of losing Nigel de Jong to Milan.
One player who had proven he was capable of performing in the Premier League was Scott Sinclair. This was a strange transfer for me, as Sinclair was clearly ready to play at a higher level but needed to be playing regular football. However, to say he has been a bit part player would be a massive understatement. He has been given no first team opportunities whatsoever, and Mancini has been naive in not using a talented wide man who would offer something different. Sinclair is also to blame here, as he was surely aware that he was going to the Champions knowing he would be given limited time on the pitch, when he should have been progressing as a player and playing regular first team football.

The one transfer who has shone this season though is Nastasic. One of the more underwhelming singings Mancini has made looks to be a real find. He reads the game superbly well, isn’t afraid of a tackle and is supremely calm when on the ball. If he can carry on his form into his second season at City then he could develop into a top class centre half.

Everyone knows the Tevez saga last season was poorly managed by Mancini, yet I was willing to allow this as the situation was one he shouldn’t of been put into in the first place.
However, his man management skills have become poorer ever since then and this has proved detrimental to a squad that seems to lack harmony throughout the ‘tough’ times in a season. Rows with Balotelli, Nasri and Kompany have been well documented and with a squad full of big characters and egos this will only cause more difficulties and Mancini does not have the necessary skills to deal with such characters.
This seems to have rubbed off on Yaya Toure who doesn’t seem to be enjoying his football at the minute and certainly isn’t the player he was last season. Not celebrating a goal, as he did against Newcastle, for me always gives rise to a player who is not enjoying himself at the football club.

The final problem Mancini has had this year is his own tactics. Title winning sides need stability and a regular starting XI, which Manchester City had last season.  Chopping and changing full backs and the support strikers only upsets the balance of a team, whereas last season he knew exactly who he would be playing, and in what position.
His favoured formation of 3-5-2 can be a very effective system when deployed in the right way, with the right players. Unfortunately this has not been the case for Mancini and this has often blown up in his face when his players look like they have no clue who is playing where and what their role is.

The FA Cup now offers a saving grace for Mancini, because if they can go on to beat Chelsea then they will be huge favourites to go on and lift the Cup for a second time in three seasons. If they can achieve that, then it will be difficult for Mansour to sack Mancini as he would have delivered three trophies in three seasons, something Arsenal could only dream of!
However, given the investment made by the Abu Dhabi Group, and the money available to Roberto Mancini, if they do not win the FA Cup it will give the Sheikh suitable grounds to get rid of Mancini.
And with Mourinho available in the summer, could it be perfect timing?



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