Mancini must turn slackers into slickers
ROBERTO MANCINI has five months to demonstrate to his club's Abu Dhabi owners that he is capable of reviving a group of players who seem to have lost the desire to help him take Manchester City to the next level.
While the City manager's job is safe for now, the Italian was confronted with firm evidence that his squad have simply lost the desire to win in the anaemic defeat at Dortmund, which left the former City player Dietmar Hamann questioning whether the high salaries commanded by the players had "taken the edge" off them.
Mancini needs to deliver the Premier League title with some style to demonstrate that he has not taken the club as far as he can in their pursuit of global status.
The sight of Maicon chatting at length with Borussia Dortmund's Sandro before leaving the pitch suggested that he was certainly not devastated by the manner of City's 1-0 defeat – which confirmed City's campaign as the worst of any English side in Champions League history.
Mancini made it his aim to sign Maicon at all costs from Inter Milan last summer at a time when he was prepared to allow Nigel de Jong and Adam Johnson go.
It doesn't appear to have been good business as the Brazilian is looking like an even more questionable signing than Javi Garcia, who put in another poor display.
"It's a tough group but to get so few points borders on embarrassing," said Hamann, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.
"City really don't have the conviction to play in this league. The gulf looked very big. Borussia rested some of their top players. The players who came in for City all cost a lot of money. The Borussia players didn't. I saw one team that had the will to win and one that didn't."
The most substantial questions now facing Mancini, after a night on which Scott Sinclair was also unable to grasp the opportunity of getting starting place, surround his transfer market business.
The departure of de Jong to AC Milan has left Yaya Toure with increased responsibility to prevent sides running through City's midfield, as many European sides have.
Johnson's release has left City short of naturally wide players. Some at the club thought he might have nurtured something out of Johnson, given more patience.
That ability is certainly a quality valued by City's new chief executive Ferran Soriano.
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho share an ability to "make their players grow professionally and at a personal level," Soriano has said.
"They generate the optimal conditions and state of mind for that to happen."
It had been a tough assignment for City, with Real Madrid and Ajax their other opponents in a group comprised of domestic champions, but the disappointment after such high expectations was clear.
"We are disappointed we didn't go into the second stage of the Champions League and we are also disappointed because we didn't stay in the Europa League," Mancini said.
"But it is clear the season is not finished. We have the Premier League and the FA Cup. I think that we need to work more now to improve this problem we have with the goals (scoring). We need to work more."
Mancini has bemoaned the lack of goal output from his principal strikers in recent weeks and was again frustrated as they failed to find in the net at the Westfalenstadion. (© Independent News Service)