Roberto Mancini is an incredibly successful manager. His Italian style and confidence are evident in front of the cameras, the hallmark of a successful and autoritative manager.
Even at cash strapped sides outside the elite group of clubs in Italy, he won trophies and delivered success, achieving rewards for both Fiorentina and Lazio above and beyond what was expected at the time. Three Italian league titles on the bounce at Inter Milan followed, proving that he had the managerial capability to win under the pressure of Milanese expectation.
His time at Manchester City has delivered exactly what was expected - the FA Cup and Champions' League football in his first full season and then the Premiership title the year after.
Ok - he hasn't delivered Champions' League success at any of the above, yet, but this is a pretty impressive CV should he need to start searching for his next job.
Despite all this, I am pretty uninspired by Mancini the manager. It's too easy to criticise him by saying that anyone, given the resources at his disposal, could have won the Premiership last year. Given the quality of the English top flight, it is not just a case of buying 20 top players and win by default. He did however catch all 3 of his nearest rivals at Old Trafford, The Emirates and Stamford Bridge on a particularly bad year by recent standards.
I don't think he's bought badly in comparison with managers at other top clubs - even Sir Alex has been known to buy the odd flop. I just don't think he's built the nucleus of a side that is set for a dynasty littered with trophies, and given the resources at his disposal, that's got to be the aim. I don't think he knows what his best side is, and I don't think he's done enough to establish truly world class partnerships in key areas of the pitch. This isn't the result of an intentional squad rotation policy for me, he just hasn't achieved the right balance. Over reliant on Yaya Toure this season, the midfield lacks fluency and aside from the big Ivorian's massive strides turning defence into attack, I can't see attacking options that can expose opposing teams in transition - they let teams get back in numbers when they lose possession.
This is probably a result of Mancini's insistence on conservatism - he will win his way and that means keeping things tight and relying on world class strikers to take chances as and when they present themselves. I've got no problem with that but he needs to do more given the privileged position he holds.
Mancini's body language and communication from the sideline leave a lot to be desired for me. Cool, calm and collected when his side is in the ascendancy, when things go wrong I think he shows his hand far too much, struggling to keep a lid on his emotions and his reactions to certain situations would have me rubbing my hands if I was in the opposing dugout. When a player makes a serious mistake, perhaps that leads to the opposition scoring, Mancini seems to go ballistic at that one man in some sort of frenzy, and I've seen him embark on a long argument with players where both parties scream at each other from 50 or 60 yards away.
In charge he may be - he goes to great lengths to let us all know that in post match interviews once the dust has settled - and I know different players require different methods of man management to ensure they get the manager's point, but it always smacks of over reaction and frantic desparation to pin the blame on one man in full view of millions watching. The concession of a goal is rarely ever one man's fault, even if that one man has made a serious mistake, so there will be questions to answer of defensive cover or other individuals' reaction to danger once the post match analysis is complete.
I also thought Joe Hart's comments recently after the Real Madrid match were spot on - I like to see senior players who are performing well reinforce the need to retain high standards. He didn't slag his team mates off, but he did say that they all had to accept that conceding two very late goals was not good enough for a side that should be considered one of the best club sides in the world. For Mancini to berate Hart publicly for giving that interview suggests a lack of unity in the camp or maybe insecuirty on his part.
Whether it's a terrible mistake on the pitch or an error of judgement off it, the inner sanctum of the dressing room or the privacy of the gaffer's office are the places to assert your authority and expectations.
I'd never suggest Mancini was tactically naive as some have done recently, but I'm not convinced he is the man who should be entrusted with the fortunes, and fortune, of the blue half of Manchester.
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