Sacked Italian spared humiliation of being dead man walking
AFTER being sacked last night, Roberto Mancini at least avoided the humiliating prospect of overseeing Manchester City's trip to Reading tonight with an axe hovering above his neck. Instead, Brian Kidd will be in the dugout for the remainder of City's season.
Mancini spent yesterday in London before confirmation of his fate late last night.
After a brief discussion with chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak on Sunday evening, when Mancini was not given clarification on his future, the former Inter Milan coach knew that the writing was on the wall.
With Mancini's fate one of the worst-kept secrets in football, Monaco lead the race the sign him, with Italian clubs Roma and Napoli also understood to be keen to talk to the 48-year-old.
Coach Walter Mazzarri has yet to sign a new contract at Napoli and club president Aurelio de Laurentiis is preparing to offer Mancini a £4m-a-year deal to move to Naples, his wife's home town.
The leaking of Mancini's departure over the weekend risked becoming a huge embarrassment for City's Abu Dhabi hierarchy, who were castigated in 2009 for striking a deal with the Italian before firing Mark Hughes.
While such a recruitment procedure is not unusual, the protracted manner of Hughes' exit damaged the reputation of the club and owners and, with Mancini a popular figure among fans, the prospect of a prolonged and vocal support for the manager risked complicating matters further.
However, the fact that they sacked him on 'Aguero Day' – so called among fans because of the Argentinian's winner against QPR on May 13 last year – risks angering supporters. Mancini's name is likely to be sung loudly at the Etihad in their final home game against Norwich next Sunday.
Although Pellegrini has denied that an agreement is in place with City, the Chilean's representative met with City sporting director Txiki Begiristain in Madrid two weeks ago and it is understood that terms of £3.4m-a-year have been agreed with the 59-year-old former Real Madrid coach.
Mancini's departure is likely to be welcomed by many of the club's players, who have endured a fractious relationship with the manager for the past 18 months.
High-profile fall-outs with Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart and Samir Nasri have done little to help Mancini's position in the eyes of the board and Begiristain.
The unhappy nature of the squad is one element of the club's decision to part company with Mancini just one season into a five-year £7.5m-a-year contract. Even before Saturday's FA Cup final defeat against Wigan at Wembley, Mancini was regarded as a lame-duck manager in the club's hierarchy.
A board meeting at the team hotel on Saturday morning concluded with no show of support for Mancini, and the inability of the club's communications department to issue assurances over the manager's future was a telling aspect of the past four days which culminated in his sacking last night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)