Mancini under pressure as City buckle under the pressure
Published: 11.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
There was an element of desperation about Manchester City earlier this week in the Champions League as they looked to convince the referee that they should have been given a last minute penalty.
In the event, the referee had blown for full time as Mario Balotelli’s shirt was pulled. Yes it was a penalty – but City had got away with a dubious one awarded to them against Borussia Dortmund.
City are now on the brink of exiting Europe’s top competition for the second time in a row at the group stage, having failed to show quality or control at this level. They have shown that they have much to learn still.
Ajax seemed the more mature, composed side, yet they are comprised mostly of youngsters and still gave a footballing lesson to their opponents once again. Frank de Boer has moulded a fine squad and team and they showed elements of the old Ajax sides the world associates with total football. Christian Eriksen was particularly superb.
For City, it will be back to the drawing board but they will first hope to avoid the embarrassment of failing even to make the Europa League. Not that they would be too interested in that competition, anyway, but sometime they must learn how to cope with European football. Defensive weakness and tactical naivety has cost them so far, but you wonder whether they are finding it hard mentally to cope with the expectation placed on them. This is a team who are not ready for this level, yet are expected to thrive. It’s unrealistic.
At the same time, their failures now threaten to place a mental barrier over their ability to perform at this level. Having failed so convincingly this year in the group of champions, they could easily feel that they do not belong at this level. The way they stood and watched as Ajax opened the scoring last night indicated a team who are hesitant, unsure.
It will be a major problem for City as they look to rebuild after this campaign. Roberto Mancini is now under immense pressure. Failure in Europe again means he has to win the league to save his job, you would imagine, and even then it may not be enough. The Italian has much to do but seems powerless to prevent his team collapsing at the biggest hurdles. Their title triumph last year was as much to do with Carlos Tevez as it was Mancini.
Pep Guardiola’s name lurks in the background, but you must wonder why some of the changes City have made have happened. Why buy Maicon, who offers little? Javi Garcia is a good player, but has not noticeably improved the functioning of the team so far. Scott Sinclair? An ok player, but hardly Champions League material. Mancini is up against it, in a battle to preserve his authority and position. But events are turning against him.