Mancini’s Silver Touch Has City Looking at Another Trophy

Today at Wembley, Roberto Mancini once again quieted his critics as Manchester City beat Chelsea 2-1 to advance to the FA Cup Final against Wigan Athletic. Should the Blues beat Wigan on the 11th of May, Mancini will have won his fourth piece of silverware with City in three seasons. Quite amazing when you add it to the nine trophies he won during his spells at Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter.

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Roberto Mancini: Scarves, fruit pastilles, and a whole lot of silverware.

Like the derby a week ago, Manchester City looked the better side from the start. The intricate passing moves between Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri and even James Milner had the Chelsea defense all bent out of shape. If not for some key blocks from Branislav Ivanovic and Ryan Bertrand and some decent goal keeping from Petr Cech, City would have scored two or three goals long before Nasri bumbled one into the back of the net to make it one-nil.

Also like the derby, it made you wonder where was this City for the first eight months of the season? Where was this high-flying, quick passing team during the Champions League? It’s a question that has been beaten to death in the past few weeks and the blame has been heaped on the gaffer but can you reasonably expect this type of play when the likes of Aguero and Vincent Kompany have missed stretches of the season due to injury?

Whether you call this season a failure is up to you. I definitely won’t because it wasn’t long ago that a City supporter couldn’t dream of three consecutive seasons with silverware and the reason City supporters can see that becoming a reality is Roberto Mancini.

Que the people arguing that it was the money, not Mancini.

Let’s not forget that Mark Hughes was given the same giant transfer budget that Mancini was. Let’s not forget that if it weren’t for Hughes floundering about, Mancini would have never been hired by City. Taking that into account, you have to point to the manager as the reason City has been so successful in the last three seasons.

Mancini is a winner. The same executives who were supposedly looking to give him the sack as soon as possible said so themselves. He’s won trophies as both as player and a manager. No, City did not win the Champions League yet but the Champions League isn’t easy to win. Ask Sir Alex, he’s only won it twice in 27 years. (Gasps!)

City’s recent run of form is an example of Mancini’s management. Seven wins out of eight games. It was Mancini’s management that chose to stick with Costel Pantilimon who hadn’t conceded a single goal in the FA Cup run until today and it was Mancini who knew what to say to Samir Nasri to get him back on track. It will probably also be Mancini’s management that sends Nasri to PSG in the summer.

I don’t want to count any chickens before they hatch but it’s highly likely that City will beat Wigan in May. And while I don’t know what the future holds for Mancini and if he will be the manager of City next season, one thing I do know is that there aren’t many City managers who can say they put as much silverware in the trophy cabinets as the Italian.

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Possible Summer Targets for Manchester City Pt. 1

With the 2012-13 Premier League season closer to reaching its end, most teams are going to start taking a closer look at their squad. Manchester City, as they shouldn’t, have not conceded the title race to city rival Manchester United yet but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at possible transfer targets this summer.

It is likely City will receive a large influx of cash with players such as Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott and even Carlos Tevez receiving their walking papers as well as the residual effects of selling Mario Balotelli to AC Milan in January. With that in mind, some of the big names being linked with the blue half of Manchester may not be so out-of-reach.

Miralem Pjanic and Erik Lamela

The Roma pair have been garnering a lot of attention with their play for the giallorossi in Serie A. Pjanic, who joined Roma from Lyon in 2011, has settled into a starting role at the Stadio Olimpico after beginning the season on the bench. The 22-year-old Bosnian international gained a reputation for being deadly from set-piece situations and having very good passing skills.

On the other hand, you have Erik Lamela. I think that Lamela, 20, could be one of the next great Argentinian players and what better way to indoctrinate him into that role than by playing him alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero. Lamela’s shooting, dribbling and speed make him an asset to any team. Just ask Roma how useful he has been this season, scoring 11 goals for them this season.

Rumor has it that City is preparing a double swoop for both Lamela and Pjanic, but as they continue to impress it will be tougher to get both of them in one deal. City may have to settle for one.

Paul Pogba

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Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba could become the perfect defensive partner for Yaya Toure at Manchester City.

The former Manchester United youth player has hit the ground running in Turin, making many highlight reels with his strikes from well outside the box. But don’t let his flashy goals fool you, Pogba is a defensive tank who can control the game in the middle of the park with well-timed challenges. Hell, just his presence might scare off a few smaller midfielders.

Pogba can fit perfectly into City’s formation next to Yaya Toure or Javi Garcia. With Pogba on the pitch, Toure can make those marauding runs he has become so famous for or if he replacing Toure then Garcia can focus on defending while Pogba gets forward.

City’s defensive midfield has been noticeably weaker without Nigel de Jong this season so if there was one buy they need to make then it is bringing Pogba to the Etihad.

Isco

Malaga is in a tough financial situation. The last time a Spanish club was in a tough financial position, Manchester City got David Silva from Valencia. Isco has all the trappings of the quintessential Spanish midfielder. He can pass, he can shoot and he can orchestrate the attack. Silva will always be City’s little Spanish magician but it doesn’t hurt for him to have an understudy.

With Nasri likely returning to France in the summer, bringing in Isco could finally give City the creative player opposite of Silva that strikes fear into opponents. The thought of Isco and Silva playing behind Aguero and a few of the other players on this list is frightening even from the perspective of a City supporter.

Gonzalo Higuain

We love our Argentine strikers at the Etithad, so much so that City is being linked with out-of-favor Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain. You don’t have to look far to see how good Higuain is. He’s a do it all player who has been gold for Los Blancos when he has gotten a look into the squad. However, Karim Benzema has displaced him in the starting XI and it may be time for Higuain to look elsewhere.

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A swoop for Gonzalo Higuain could be a stroke of genius for Roberto Mancini and form a formidable partnership with countrymen Sergio Aguero.

I think this would be a perfect deal for City as Higuain won’t carry the price tag of a Edison Cavani or Radamel Falcao but comes with all the quality of someone worth three times what he is. There’s only one player who has a better goal-per-game average at the Bernanbeu and Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t someone you mind coming in second to.

Robert Lewandoski

Robert Lewandoski is preparing to leave the Bundesliga and Borussia Dortmund want Edin Dzeko who recently said he wants to go back to the Bundesliga. Sounds like a perfect deal to me, what about you?

The 24-year-old Polish international has been linked with a move to Manchester so much that it started to get old except that was before Manchester United decided to go break the bank on Robin van Persie. Lewandoski has a few more years left in him than van Persie and a few fewer trips to the physio’s table.

Lewandoski doesn’t provide the height that Dzeko has but he makes up for it in sheer scoring ability. In 33 games this season with Dortmund, Lewandoski has found the back of the net 23 times. How’s that for efficiency?

Will Hughes

City put in a few bids for Will Hughes in January but Derby County were reluctant to let the 17-year-old midfielder go to the Etihad. I think we’ll see City send a few more bids Derby’s way in the summer.

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Will Hughes could be one of England’s next big stars but the question is, what Premier League team is going to shell out the cash to get him first?

Hughes has received high praise from all corners as he has settled in quickly at Pride Park despite his age. English U-21 manager Stuart Pearce was impressed has been impressed with his ability to keep the ball and pick out passes.

He might not be able to break into City’s lineup at 17, but after what Matija Nastasic has done at the Etihad at only 19 I’d say what’s the harm in bringing him in sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned for part two where we’ll take a look at the usual suspects linked with a move to Manchester City as well as a few guys I think we should take a look at.