Manager Roberto Mancini has been continually linked with losing his job. Judging by the fact that prior to winning the league last season he held talks with Monaco, and that this season he has already been linked with Roma, Mancini is probably already plotting the precise escape route he will take from the Etihad.
With the team struggling to keep pace with Manchester United in the league, it is clear things have to change in the blue half of Manchester. Although Mancini has done a terrific job at the Etihad Stadium, progress is no longer being made. Mancini appears to irritate many players with his public criticisms, and his exasperation is showing. Last year was marked by Mancini being unhappy with the way the club was conducting transfer policy, as he was handed a bunch of players he didn’t really want.
So Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, the ex Barcelona duo who were so important to the recruitment of Pep Guardiola as coach of the Catalan side five years ago, now have another big managerial decision to make. Mauricio Pellegrino and Erneste Valverde have been linked with the post. So has Jose Mourinho, although the decision not to hire him at Barcelona, because of the way he conducted himself in the private eye, has since been vindicated, and they may not take such a chance.
Whoever comes in, the playing squad is likely to change. City have looked listless and without any real hunger or stomach to fight for the title they won so dramatically last season. Something has gone, an element which helped carry them over the line last time, that they must correct.
Carlos Tevez seems likely to leave for one – the Argentine was forced out of his golf habit last season to return to save his career, and has failed to get the move he so desperately wanted. But with his contract winding down, he has the advantage in the battle with City, and can probably force through a move back to Brazil with former club Corinthians.
Gareth Barry has looked pedestrian at times this season and is reportedly another set for the exit door, as is the often underused Edin Dzeko, who sometimes looks lost in games. Samir Nasri may be on his way too, having failed to show the form Arsene Wenger coaxed out of him at Arsenal since his controversial move north. Joleon Lescott may go too, after Mancini lost patience with his error strewn ways, whilst Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz and Wayne Bridge will be leaving on free transfers with their contracts expiring. It is key for City to offload many of these players, as they need to comply with financial fair play and are a long way off being able to do so. An unwelcome helping hand may come from Yaya Toure, whose agent has apparently claimed that he will be off at the end of the season if he is not offered a new deal within days. That would represent a monumental blow. The only three players at the club who are top class and are likely to still be there next season are David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany. So a summer of change it certainly is at the Etihad. The City that emerge for the start of the 2013-14 season promise to be very different from the one that finishes this year.