With the dust now settled on Sunday’s lacklustre 2-0 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has predictably been in the firing line as his team continues to try and avoid any mention of the dreaded ‘F’ word – fifth.
The Blues’ quest for the league title has come to a grinding halt and after another display lacking in ambition, the objective now is a minimum fourth-placed Champions League spot, or Mancini could suffer the fate of his predecessor Mark Hughes. It is not the first time the Italian has been criticised for his team’s apparent negativity, and with Jose Mourinho’s name cropping up this weekend as his possible replacement you could be forgiven for thinking that Mancini is living on borrowed time at Eastlands.
Mancini thought Thursday’s Europa League clash with Dynamo Kiev, when the Blues played 54 minutes with 10 men, finally caught up with his players late in the game at Chelsea. However, the loss of Carlos Tevez just before kick-off with a groin strain he picked up against Kiev proved once again that the Blues are just not the same team without their Argentinean talisman. It was reported that Tevez insisted he was fit to play, yet the club’s medical team advised he should be left out in case he aggravated the problem. He now has two weeks in which to try and get fit for the crucial run-in to the season.
Nonetheless, first team Coach David Platt, in the absence of Mancini (who had a plane to catch), insisted it would have been too risky to have selected Tevez: “That
Platt also refuted claims of negativity: “We competed right up to the 70th minute, but it kept coming back at us – we had tried to make a change and then conceded a free-kick,” he said. “We had Edin Dzeko on the pitch, Yaya Toure playing further forward, David Silva out there. We didn’t come here to sit off them. We took the game to them a bit more in the first 10 minutes. We have played that formation several times this season.”
Meanwhile, City have been linked with a move for Chelsea´s former winger Arjen Robben, who has hinted he may quit Bayern Munich if they miss out on a Champions League place. The 27-year-old’s contract with the German giants still has another two years to run, with Bayern adamant he is happy at the Allianz Arena, but he could be tempted by a big-money offer from the Blues as they look to add more creativity to their squad.