Arsenal is a great example of a team competing with clubs who dwarf their financial reach. Everton reached the Champions League qualification stage six years ago on a further reduced budget and were able sustain a European challenge for a number of years following their European Cup disappointment. What’s more, Birmingham triumphed in the League Cup in February having purchased widely, but in little quantity, last summer.
So why is Roberto Mancini, who has guided Manchester City within reach of a top 4 finish in the League and steered them past arch rivals, Manchester United, in the FA Cup semi-final to set up the Eastland’s outfit with a first Wembley showpiece in 30 years, not receiving any of the credit he deserves for achieving so much in his first full season in charge?
Although the Manchester City post offers the most privileged, flexible and wealthy managerial seat on the planet, Mark Hughes struggled to guide City to near their current standing, and several managers have proved wasteful when awarded extensive transfer funds, and that was one of the main reasons for Sam Allardyce’s removal from the St. James’ Park hot-seat in 2008.
A club of City’s stature should acknowledge the work of Mancini in directing the club in the right direction so quickly, even if a large number of their fans, and other onlookers, feel they should have won the League by now. Although many have compared the Abu Dhabi takeover at the City of Manchester to that of Roman Abramovich’s seizing of control at Stamford Bridge in terms of scale, it must be mentioned that Chelsea were fortunate at that time to achieve substantial and immediate success based on several external factors.
Title winners Manchester United, were enduring something of a transition in terms of playing staff, as Sir Alex Ferguson invested heavily in youth including foreign imports and academy graduates. It was much easier for Chelsea to spend big, appoint the most recent manager to win the Champions League and compete in the League against the likes of Tim Howard, Liam Miller, Mikael Silvestre, Kieran Richardson and the developing talents of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Darren Fletcher, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic. Today, the United side who were experiencing such a large scale progression have fully developed and are yet again the most dominant force in English football, making City’s FA Cup triumph all the more impressive.
Since Chelsea’s revolution, several top flight clubs have welcomed foreign finance and subsequent spending, such as Aston Villa, who have finished 6th in each of the last three seasons, and instead of demonstrating signs of moving further up the table, they currently find themselves battling for League survival. Despite this, Martin O’Neill has received widespread acclaim for his efforts at Villa Park, and although in reality he accomplished a considerable amount during his time in charge, he probably only achieved half of what Mancini has in double the time.
Albeit a number of Mark Hughes’ signings have proved pivotal to City’s present campaign, notably Vincent Kompany, Mancini can be credited for promoting Joe Hart to first XI goalkeeper, bringing in the influential Yaya Toure, and developing the talents of Adam Johnson and Alexander Kolarov, who have all played an important role in City’s season. The transfer fees the club is expected to pay are hugely inflated because of their evident wealth, and because they are able to afford such high prices, the amount spent on players doesn’t always reflect the ability of City’s signings, something which is not in Mancini’s control.
City are beginning to resemble a stable side with an almost predictable starting XI who will rightly be considered favourites to beat Stoke in the Cup Final and have an excellent chance of playing in the Champions League next season for the first time since 1969. The skills that Mancini has provided the club in terms of controlling enormous and wealthy ego and helping a squad of strangers gel in to a team capable of defeating Manchester United at Wembley have been invaluable this season, and it is certainly time that the continually scarfed Italian gets the credit he deserves.