Wayne Flask

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Petulant Twats in Football – 05 – Roberto Mancini

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Few coaches have had the luxury of coaching world class players with the backing of an open handed (dumb?) president or sheikh (both of whom, incidentally, owe their fortunes to wells of black gold). One of these in particular, however, has the luxury of making a nuisance of himself both in Italy and in the UK.

No one other than Roberto Mancini could manage such an audacious record in a so far brief career. While the jury is still out on his tenure at Manchester City, a quick look at his CV indicates the sort of arrogant, cocky manager who’s busier having the last word rather than the right one, and will throw a hissy fit or tantrum if ignored. A few successes here and there, all of which dotted by something stupid done or uttered.

Roberto Mancini, or Mancio (“Leftie”) was a formidable player for Sampdoria in his heyday. A quick, creative second striker, he formed the legendary duo with the other former hothead Gianluca Vialli in Vujadin Boskov’s Sampdoria, the side who won the scudetto in 1991 and were beaten by a stunning Koeman freekick in the 1992 Champions Cup Final. His rise to the national side was hampered by the presence of stronger competitors for the same role, at a time when Italy, unlike nowadays, seemed to abound in creative second strikers who could also keep their mouths shut and work as like possessed: R.Baggio, Zola, Signori. Arrigo Sacchi would then keep him out of the squad for USA ’94 after a dispute (Mancio loves disputes).

Moving from Sampdoria to Lazio for three more successful seasons, the last shirt he would don was that of the Leicester City shirt in 2000-01. Chalking up a measly 90 minutes in 5 games, he left Leicester in February, initially citing personal reasons, although a few days later he called in saying he didn’t really have the doctor’s certificate, but the offer to manage Fiorentina.

Former Italy manager Azeglio Vicini railed against the decision to allow Mancini on the bench without having the necessary qualifications. Heedless of all that, Mancini still took helm of the side, managing to win the Coppa Italia but winning, according to the ruthless statistics, 6 games out of a total of 27. He resigned in January 2002, with Fiorentina staring at the gun of bankruptcy, letting go of a manager who proved Vicini wrong and did well on a tight budget. Reportedly, Mancini managed for free and offered to play for the cash strapped Viola.

Mancini (left) and David Moyes: Scotsman unjustly accused of stealing shampoo.

From one sinking ship to the other, Mancini joined Lazio in May 2002, placing fourth and sixth in his two seasons and winning the Coppa Italia (later known as Coppa Mancini). So far, so good: Lazio were the shambles of the great side that won the league a couple of years before, having sold Nesta, Crespo and many other players when Sergio Cragnotti (owner of Cirio) went bankrupt. With Mancini picking up two trophies for two small teams, his days as prize money collector would soon be over.

Mancini moved to Inter, which at the time was in desperate need of trophies. He duly delivered. Well, almost. Inter struggled throughout the first season, ending third behind Juventus and Milan. Disjointed, weary and unresponsive, Mancini’s side displayed the kind of football that made you wonder if the manager was actually present at training sessions. Moratti kept delving in his pockets for money, yet Inter was rapidly turning into a joke. Come summer of 2006, however (Inter finished third yet again in 2005-2006), Mancini suddenly finds himself as the manager of Italy’s champions after Juventus were relegated to Serie B and Milan docked points in the wake of the Calciopoli ‘scandal’, a smelly fish whose reek is still discernible to this date.

He was left with the easy task of winning the 2006-2007 league after all the opposition had been annihilated by complacent tribunals, and would then win the 2007-2008 league in the last round after a crazy chase by misfiring Roma. But by now, Moratti was desperate for the Champions League. So far, Mancini’s record saw him succumb in the Quarter Finals to Villarreal in his first season, hated city rivals Milan in the second, and Valencia in the third (cue a grand finale with a brawl erupting at the final whistle and ruckus starter Nicolas Burdisso receiving the mother of all straight punches on his jaw).

Come 2007-2008, Moratti’s patience was wearing thin, and with Mourinho waiting in the wings, Mancini dug his hole even deeper by declaring he would leave Inter at the end of the season (he had only just collected his fourth consecutive Champions League elimination against Liverpool, and the press conference lasted 3 minutes, just the time to sit down and get his hair brushed). Moratti duly sacked him at the end of the year, despite the title, and replaced with M******o.

Mancini’s unjustifiable flare up after the fateful game against Liverpool proved fatal. He ended up jobless and while still under heavy remuneration from Inter, was forbidden legally to find himself another club. Play hardball with a fuel magnate, that’s what you get. What surprises me most is how, despite the titles and the Coppe Mancini, his reign at Inter was submerged in controversy, with the manager apparently unable to control his dressing room. And his temper. His habit of talking out of turn hadn’t subsided, and he was often wont to unpleasant exchanges with fellow managers or footballers.

The arrogant streak clearly didn’t leave him. After sitting jobless for a year or so, he quickly found a wealthy sheikh to employ him at Manchester City, replacing the other sad loser, Mark Hughes, at the helm of the biggest joke in English football. He would finish fifth, just adrift of the fourth Champions League slot after losing the decider to Tottenham, often fielding a demoralised side that seemed more intent on devising its own schemes than obeying Mancini’s. Amid spats with Adebayor and Bellamy and his general unpopularity in the dressing room, he got into a spot of bother with Everton’s David Moyes when he tried to wrench the ball off his colleague’s hands, just like we used to do at playschool. Last week he told Hughes he’d be better off finding a different job. Unbelievable.

He is currently fourth in this year’s Premiership, and it doesn’t seem like he can improve much, seeing his multi-million side can still lose to Wolves and offer, in general, a very poor spectacle. For all his cockiness and physique du role, Roberto Mancini remains an overrated, overpaid manager, an individual who can hardly control his team(s) without causing blowups, and with the tactical knowledge of a cloistered nun. Quite simply, his luck is a double edged knife. Weren’t it for Calciopoli in 2006, Mancini, tonight, could be on the verge of being kicked out by Padova: Hairdryers and all.

This arrogant, self-inflated manager bags PTF 05.

written for footballxs.com

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