Roberto Mancini was announced as the new man to take forward Manchester City’s huge expectations after Mark Hughes was deemed a failure by the club’s board. The former Inter Milan Coach is a newcomer to English management and a relative unknown to Premier League followers, so A Different League’s sister site, Football Italiano, explains Mancini the manager.
The best way to describe Mancini would be using three words – talented, charismatic and hotheaded. Unlike the other two Italian managers in England, Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti, Mancini is an individual who attracts a lot of media attention for both the right and wrong reasons. He was the Coach of Inter until last year when he was dumped for Jose Mourinho, despite having led his side to three successive Italian championships. So the good news is that the man is used to handling the big egos and the big personalities which are in place at Manchester City.
In 2001, Mancini took over the reins of a Fiorentina side steeped in financial crisis. Despite the team’s relegation, Mancini had shown enough managerial acumen to be hired by Lazio the following season. In his first term in charge, Mancini did very well to lead Lazio to the Champions League. Mancini continued to impress as he led Lazio to a Coppa Italia win in 2004 against Juventus. This earned Roberto an opportunity at the then underachievers of Italy, Inter Milan. Mancini’s start with the Nerazzuri was a mixed one as despite the team losing just two games the whole season, they drew 18 which saw them finish third. Inter were eliminated by their city rivals AC Milan in the quarter-final of the Champions League with the second leg being called off after the famous rain of flares. The next season revealed the first of Mancini’s weaknesses. Inter were dumped out of the Champions League by unfancied Villarreal amid reports that during half-time in the second leg teammates Veron and Adriano had come to blows in the dressing room. Inter finished behind Juventus and Milan once again, and won their second Coppa Italia in a row.
The Calciopoli scandal saw the 2005/06 Scudetto being handed to Inter and this revitalised the squad. Mancini’s squad dominated Serie A and won the championship after having accumulated an unprecedented 97 points. But the team’s failings in Europe continued as they were eliminated by Valencia in the first knockout round. The next season proved to be Mancini’s baptism of fire as there were still many in Italy who believed his success was down to the Calciopoli scandal rather than his own managerial abilities. Inter threw away a healthy lead in the league and had to wait until the last day to seal their third Scudetto on a trot.
But it was in Europe where Mancini faltered the most. After an excellent group-stage performance, Inter took on Liverpool in the Round of 16. Despite the Reds being a weakened side, Mancini chose an ultra-defensive line-up for the first leg at Anfield, a decision which attracted heavy criticism and also saw Inter lose 2-0. The second leg was where the Italian threw it all away, as after Burdisso was sent off, Mancini’s demeanour changed to that of a beaten man. After the loss, Mancini spectacularly announced that he would quit Inter after the season, a declaration which left everyone including the president Moratti stunned. Mancini was always known for his awkward relationship with journalists but this was the furthest extreme he had gone to. He later rescinded his statement, only for Moratti to fire him at the end of the campaign anyway.
And this is what in a nutshell City can expect to get – a manager who is no doubt talented, but an individual who has his personality deficiencies. His man-management skills were none-too famous at Inter, as many had fallen foul of the manager including Adriano, Luis Figo, Patrick Viera and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His character is one which is bound to clash with the ones in Manchester and there would be little surprise if a shuffle was seen within the City ranks. Mancini’s tactical choices have also left many doubting his abilities as on numerous occasions he has gone for an unexpected formation change. However, his success with Inter indicates that he has what it takes to lead a top quality side. Many have suggested that he is a league manager and not a cup manager, and so given the time at City one can be assured the results will be positive.