Monday 20 November 2017

Time ticking for volatile Mancini

Ian Herbert

You imagine Roberto Mancini would consider any managerial environment more habitable than Italy.

It was soon after his Inter side had lost in the 2006 Champions League quarter-final to Villarreal that he and his players were confronted by a group of their own fans at Malpensa airport, after a league match at Ascoli.

After some ironic clapping, Cristiano Zanetti was hit across the back of the head. Mancini declared a few days later that he was being driven closer to leaving the country.

"Nowadays in Italy you cannot return home feeling upset because you lost, without thinking up something else to do (in your career)," he said at the time.

The mob certainly aren't out for Mancini, yet the grass is greener for him in Italy, his Manchester City No 2 David Platt said yesterday when the Italian did not appear for his weekly press conference.

"He has got a couple of things he needs to do. He is fine, why wouldn't he be?" Platt said, declaring after a testy five days for the manager that Mancini found it easier in Italy because those who chronicle his work simply "listen to quotes and go and write them. They accept that people want to read football, rather than your opinions".

The point about Mancini's most combustible week in England is that there are few purveyors of the opinion that he isn't good enough. The fire which Platt sought to put out yesterday really does seem to have been of the manager's own making.

A TV cameraman on the field of play on Wednesday didn't seem like a reason to explode -- any more than a question from a journalist on Monday about his own admission that seven or eight clubs had been interested in his services last summer.

We are talking about Mancini, the man who opened his newspapers one day in 2008 to find leaked transcripts of a series of phone calls between himself and other Inter employees with Domenico Brescia -- a 55-year-old tailor who served time in prison for conspiracy to commit murder and had Mafia connections. (There was nothing incriminating but Inter used them as a way of getting him out.)

Mancini (below) has ignited many times in the course of matches and after. "He's always been like that. As a player he was completely like that," said Platt. "Monday to Friday he was fine, but once he's on the training pitch if things don't go well for him he has this fire in him. He doesn't snap. He has this fire in him."

But that didn't apply to last Monday. His eruption in the relative calm of a pre-match press conference was unprecedented during his time in east Manchester and it is difficult not to conclude that there is a deeper frustration.

The arrival of Txiki Begiristain does have the potential to clip his wings, though the new ex-Barcelona contingent at the club are doing all they can to prevent a sense they are colonising the place.

Continual frustrations in Europe must be an agony, though Platt dismissed the suggestion.

There is an immediate opportunity for the manager to grind any doubts about him into the dust.

David Silva is back in training and might possibly play a small role at the start of a crucial 28-day period -- beginning with tomorrow's match with Spurs -- which brings City up against Real Madrid, Chelsea, Everton, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United, with Aston Villa and Wigan in between. (© Independent News Service)

Man City v Tottenham,

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, 1.30

Irish Independent

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