x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mancini is now in a position of power at Manchester City

With skilful man management, judicious transfer purchases and shrewd tactics, Mancini has manoeuvred himself into a position of enormous strength.

Roberto Mancini will have sported a smile as wide as the margin of victory for his rampant team at Old Trafford as he cycled to work yesterday. You could have even forgiven him for executing a few wheelies on the way, although he is probably best leaving that to Mario Balotelli for his latest stunt.

It is difficult to imagine how the stock of the Italian could be any higher right now, and his agent, Giorgio De Giorgis, could probably name his price when it comes to renegotiating his contract, that expires at the end of next season, with the Manchester City hierarchy. But accepting the City job was never about money for Mancini; he could probably live off the interest he accrues for the eight-figure pay-off he received when he was fired by Inter Milan.

Mancini has more than earned his salary working under intense pressure and scrutiny for the wealthiest and most ambitious owner in the world.

He, firstly, had to overcome those sceptics who doubted his credentials to replace Mark Hughes and, secondly, gain the acceptance of a powder keg of a dressing room who were reeling and revolting at the manner of the departure of his predecessor.

Then came what to do with Robinho (remember him?), the Brazilian he inherited who was signed for a British record transfer fee before the ink had barely had time to dry on the deal for the Abu Dhabi United Group to buy the club in 2008. It took a brave man to tell Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the owner, that his £32.5 million (Dh190,756) acquisition was surplus to requirements.

Then he gradually began to marginalise crowd favourites Stephen Ireland, Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips and boldly staked his reputation on the signing the enigmatic Balotelli. Even Jose Mourinho, the decorated manager of Real Madrid, failed to find a way to harness the talents of the Italian Balotelli.

He has since emerged with enormous credit for his handling of Carlos Tevez. He handed the captaincy back to the restless Argentine after he first agitated for a move in December last year, a move that raised eyebrows in the boardroom. Tevez responded by firing City into the Champions League and FA Cup glory, but once Mancini had Sergio Aguero in place, he no longer needed to indulge the wantaway Tevez.

His forthright comments after Tevez allegedly refused to play against Bayern Munich sent out a resounding message to the rest of the squad that questioning his authority will not be tolerated, as Edin Dzeko and Adam Johnson have found to their cost in recent weeks.

The board are not spared his frankness either.

By publicly admonishing Tevez and saying his career at City was "finished" he left the power brokers with little option but to back him. And they did by handing out the strongest possible punishment to the striker.

This came just a few months after Mancini expressed how "disappointed" he was with the speed at which the transfers for Aguero and Samir Nasri were concluded.

With skilful man management, judicious transfer purchases and shrewd tactics, Mancini has manoeuvred himself into a position of enormous strength at the Etihad Stadium. City now need him more than he needs them.

kaffleck@thenational.ae


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