1. Bad man management
One point that has been emphasised consistently amid the countless tributes to Alex Ferguson over the past few days has been his exceptional man-management skills. Difficult characters to handle, including Roy Keane and Eric Cantona, were dealt with impeccably throughout their careers. Therefore, it’s difficult to avoid noticing the contrast between Ferguson and Mancini, whose skills in this department are seemingly lacking by comparison. His about-turn on Carlos Tevez, initially saying he could never play for the club again, before subsequently deciding that the player’s services were needed, was one major embarrassment. Similarly, his indulgence of Mario Balotelli, despite the young striker’s constant indiscretions, went on for far too long. Other more recent issues, such as his recurring criticisms of Joe Hart, consolidated Mancini’s reputation as a difficult person.
2. A penchant for strange tactics
As is often the case with Italian managers in particular, Roberto Mancini is known for his elaborate approach to tactics. There were times when his unique methods infuriated the majority at the City of Manchester Stadium – his decision to replace Carlos Tevez with Jack Rodwell in last Saturday’s FA Cup final, when City needed a goal, was one prime example of his occasional attraction to somewhat eccentric decision-making. Of course, these unpopular decisions sometimes yielded a positive outcome, but at a club such as City in which there is a considerable demand for instant success, ‘sometimes’ isn’t good enough.
3. City’s relative lack of spending last summer
Even the very best sides are constantly evolving. Barcelona, for instance, have announced at least one major signing in each of the past few summers, despite the manner in which they have invariably dominated both domestically and in the Champions League. City, on the other hand, were surprisingly reluctant to reinvest in their squad in the summer prior to this season, having spent a significant sum building the team that helped them win the Premier League last year. Consequently, Roberto Mancini’s side had a stale look about them at times in the league this year. Moreover, to compound their woe, the big player who they were often linked with – Robin van Persie – turned out to be arguably the most decisive factor in United’s reclaiming of the league title, after they snapped the Dutch striker up at their neighbours’ expense.
4. The team’s inability to make an impact in Europe
While Mancini has enjoyed partial success in the league during his time at City, Europe has been the one area where his team have failed unequivocally. Granted, they were in a very difficult group on both occasions. However, given the amount spent on bringing players in, there was a huge sense of disappointment about their Champions League travails. Not only were they beaten by the likes of Real Madrid and Dortmund, they were outclassed, more often than not. While sides such as Chelsea at least found a way to combat technically superior opponents, Mancini – a coach who is supposedly tactically adept – appeared to have no answer to the sophisticated, continental styles that his team invariably came up against.
5. The style of play City favoured
Despite some promising moments – such as the respective away hammerings last season of Manchester United and Tottenham – City seldom seemed capable of playing with the type of thrilling panache that the truly great sides normally possess. In many ways, their defeat of QPR, whereby they secured the title, characterised their style – it wasn’t pretty to watch, but they got the job done. The City team invariably seemed to be marked by players who were physically imposing rather than technically excellent. There was no true Paul Scholes or Cesc Fabregas-type playmaker – all they had were pale imitations (Samir Nasri) and individuals who failed to apply such brilliance consistently (David Silva). And as considerably effective as someone such as Yaya Toure generally tended to be, the lack of balance in the side ultimately hampered their progress significantly.