Mancini accuses players after City suffer severe blow to title hopes
Some players – Nasri and Toure saunter to mind – have looked far too comfortable in the knowledge that there is no adequate alternative. There is no worthy stand-in for the injured Vincent Kompany.
Mancini claims that he enjoys a good relationship with the chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, but it does not appear to be good enough to get what he believes he needs. If there are differences of opinion, the likelihood is that they will either be resolved by next summer or result in divorce.
The outcome could depend on how City fare in the run-in. While Mancini is entitled to complain that the club’s recruitment has left him rather constrained, his employers would be entitled to argue that he still should be getting more out of the squad at his disposal. If a player’s mindset is wrong, the manager must bear at least some of the blame.
It was hard not to wonder after the performance at Southampton whether the reason the champions were out-fought by Mauricio Pochettino’s team was not solely down to complacency but also because one group of players believed fervently in their manager’s methods while the other was beset by doubts. There was a disjointedness about City that recalled, for instance, their dishevelled display at Ajax in the Champions League last October, after which Micah Richards said the team was not particularly well versed in the manager’s new formation.
At Southampton it again seemed there were square pegs in round holes - the decision to deploy Javier Garcia out of position at centre-back backfired badly and the manager’s substitutions did nothing to make City a more cogent proposition. There is also the question of whether some members of the squad have been turned off by Mancini’s man-management - his severity with some and perceived indulgence of Balotelli before the striker’s departure.
Mancini has lambasted his players but do his players care enough about his view to respond in the way he hopes? “We have a methodology and a philosophy and the players have shown a great willingness and capacity to accept them.” That was Pochettino speaking. Who would believe Mancini if he said the same?