Time Mancini made the best of his resources at Man City
Once upon a time, in an age of innocence, a writer named Richmal Crompton created a series of children’s books about Just William, an exceedingly naughty schoolboy. Violet Elizabeth Bott, his sidekick, would get on well with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini.
Her default mechanism was to warn she would “squeem and squeem and squeem until I’m sick” unless she got her own way. Mancini appears to have taken a similar stance when reminded of the financial realities of life by Brian Marwood, Man City’s football administrator.
Don’t be fooled by that title, by the way. Marwood is far more than a grey bureaucrat. He is a great judge of a young player. He has a dirty job to do at City, but someone has to do it if the club is to at least pay lip service to UEFA’s financial fair play rules.
While Mancini has been complaining about a lack of transfer activity, Marwood has moved on the likes of Jô, Robinho, Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy. He’s also hopeful of setting up a deal to smuggle Roque Santa Cruz out of the back door before the transfer window closes on Friday night.
The collective loss on that confection of underachievers is somewhere in the region of £80m. That’s serious money, even at the world’s richest club. Though Mancini laughed off one notably hysterical report he would quit unless he was indulged, his frustration has shaped the start to City’s season.
The sudden implementation of a 3-5-2 system was curious and seen as a hint to Marwood that City needed better central defensive options. Some wonder whether it suited Mancini’s strategy that such fringe players as Kolo Touré, Alex Kolarov, James Milner and Nigel de Jong struggled against Liverpool on Sunday.
The Italian is hardly sitting outside the Etihad with a mangy dog and a begging bowl. Scott Sinclair’s £6.2m move from Swansea could be completed today, and the club are likely to buy Fiorentina defender Matija Nastasic. A marquee signing, possibly Benfica midfielder Javi García, rather than Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martínez, is still a possibility.
Mancini’s stance raises an intriguing issue. Just as petrolheads debate which Formula One driver would win if everyone’s car was equal, football fans love to discuss which managers would flourish if everyone’s budget was identical.
If I were a betting man, I’d put a cheeky fiver on David Moyes, Paul Lambert, Brendan Rodgers, Arsène Wenger, Roberto Martínez and Sir Alex Ferguson all making better use of City’s money. Roberto Mancini is a very good manager, but he is not the best.
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