Mancini's first task to quell player revolt
Roberto Mancini will be unveiled as Manchester City’s new manager tomorrow knowing his first task is to restore order to a dressingroom in revolt.
But the Italian will also come into a job where predecessor Mark Hughes found the expectations of the club’s owners changed, it has been claimed.
Hughes’ sacking, straight after the 4-3 win over Sunderland on Saturday, triggered an angry reaction from a group of players who remain solidly behind the Welshman.
While Robinho, a big-money purchase imposed on Hughes, and maybe even the axed Emmanuel Adebayor, will shed no tears at Hughes’ exit, the core of City’s side, including Shay Given, Craig Bellamy and Gareth Barry, were part of a deputation that urged chief executive Garry Cook to reverse the decision to dismiss a man who was only appointed 18 months ago.
Predictably, given Hughes’ exit had been plotted for over a fortnight, it had no effect.
However, resentment remains, which Mancini must restore calm before his first match in charge against Stoke on St Stephen’s Day.
Having been handed a €3.4million-a-year contract that it is said will be extended to a full three seasons should City qualify for next year’s Champions League, Mancini has a fortnight to assess the troops at his disposal before deciding how much of the Abu Dhabi billions he must invest during the January transfer window.
The Italian takes over amid claims from League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan that Hughes was unaware of his fate prior to yesterday’s game.
City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak revealed the decision had been taken in response to a run of just two wins in 11 in the Premier League.
City’s woes stem largely from too many drawn matches, the club having lost just two games all season — one of those an unfortunate reverse in a thrilling Manchester derby.
Hughes’ demeanour during and after yesterday’s win at Eastlands indicated he was aware of the board’s decision to terminate his contract prior to the game, but that was not the case, according to Bevan.
“I spoke to Mark last night and he found out immediately after the game when he was called into a meeting and informed that his contract was being terminated, but I think the decision had probably been taken some time ago,” said Bevan.
“I think Mark and everybody else in this country realises that you can’t buy trophies in one season.
“If they (overseas owners) feel that, then we’ll continue with the sackings and we’ll continue with affinity lost to our clubs in England, because I’m pretty sure the Manchester City fans will be sorry to see Mark go.
“If you come in as an overseas owner, you need to embrace the city, the supporters, not just the trophy cabinet.”
Yesterday’s win over the Black Cats moved City into sixth place in the Premier League, a position in line with the board’s pre-season targets, and Bevan has accused the club’s owners of shifting their expectations midway through the campaign.
“Mark is very realistic about the situation. He knew the key goals he had to hit. His target actually was the top six. He was very disappointed because they were on target for that.
“For me, his reputation is still intact. Only two defeats — the fewest in the league — semi-finals of the Carling Cup, to me it looks like the goalposts were moved and the decision was made some time ago that he wasn’t to continue in his role past today.
“I’m very disappointed for Mark and indeed the City fans.
“Mark would have delivered continued success without doubt if more time had been afforded to him and his staff, but he’s left a platform for the next manager without doubt.”