x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Good times are on the horizon again for Manchester City

I like the idea that City will build from the bottom and develop their own players, promoting youth. That was a tradition for years at City, but it didn't happen under Mancini.

Micah Richards, left, is congratulated by Manchester City teammate Sisenando Maicon after scoring the winning goal in their 4-3 friendly win over Chelsea on Thursday.
Micah Richards, left, is congratulated by Manchester City teammate Sisenando Maicon after scoring the winning goal in their 4-3 friendly win over Chelsea on Thursday.

I'd be optimistic if I was a Manchester City fan, something I wouldn't have said if Roberto Mancini was still in charge.

Manuel Pellegrini, who is expected to take over, seems like a good choice. Players like him as a person and as a boss, his reputation is good. His ability to make himself liked while maintaining discipline is perfect for a team in City's situation.

With an excellent track record, he has worked with big players and is used to dealing with their egos. His sides play attractive attacking football. He will inherit a superb squad stuffed with top, top players.

I like the idea that City will build from the bottom and develop their own players, promoting youth. That was a tradition for years at City, but it didn't happen under Mancini.

Young players felt they had no chance of establishing themselves in the first team. My own son is there and he's happy to stay on now there has been a change. He needs to believe that he can make the first team, even if he never does. The young players can look forward to an incredible new training facility in the future.

Not that Pellegrini will fill the team with kids. He will have money, but he wasn't just about money at Villarreal and Malaga. He signed players for tiny fees or on free transfers such as Diego Forlan or Juan Riquelme or the young like Isco, now said to be wanted by City and Real Madrid.

I was negative about Mancini in this column last month. I knew a lot of City fans wouldn't like it and they made their feelings clear, but I told it how I saw it.

My comments were not personal, but based on what I knew. Mancini had burnt far too many bridges at City for him to make a success of his job. Almost everything I heard about him was negative.

I know he brought City trophies for the first time in 35 years, an FA Cup, then a league title. I know he oversaw a famous 6-1 victory at Old Trafford and I can understand fully why City fans will always have special memories of him.

He helped changed them from being a club which won nothing to a club which won trophies. But he wasn't the man to take City forward and, because the players weren't happy with him, they didn't play to their full potential last season.

City have got a cracking squad. They've got good personnel too. Brian Kidd is a fine coach, who knows Manchester and the players well. I know, I worked with him on a daily basis.

He always wanted to be at the forefront of coaching techniques and would disappear to Italy for a few days to see what they were doing at Milan and Juventus. He was the good cop to Sir Alex Ferguson's bad cop. At City, Mancini was the bad cop too often and even Kiddo wouldn't have been able to compensate for that.

Players will take a kick up the backside, but they need their egos massaging too, need to be kept happy. They don't want to dislike their manager strongly and look to leave because he's there.

A manager should keep his staff happy. There will always be issues like there are in any business, but you can't run a successful operation if almost all of your staff despise you. These are the people who will win you trophies, you can't be at war with them.

Players need to respect a manager, even if he has a go at them sometimes. They need to see the method in his thinking, even if they don't always agree with it. There was too little of that with Mancini.

I'm told that the vast majority of the players were delighted when he was dismissed.

I've been in a dressing room where the manager is deeply unpopular. When it happens, players start to play for themselves, not the boss. The team ethic is lost and the team underperform. That was City last season, their winning mentality wasn't strong enough. Pablo Zabaleta, one of their best players, said that.

It wasn't just the players. Even City's kitman was critical of the Italian. The kitman is vital in any dressing room and an integral part of any club. I've worked with eight or nine kitmen - they are much more than the bloke who wash the socks. They set the tone in the dressing room, they're the life and soul, they're so important.

I look back at kitmen I worked with, Alan at Newcastle, Puggsy at Fulham, Normy D and Albert at Man United. Top men. Men who will invite you to eat with their family if you're living alone in an apartment away from your family. They will do anything for the manager - their boss. So if the kitman turns against the manager, there's a very big problem.

Andrew Cole's column is written with the assistance of European football correspondent Andy Mitten

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