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.
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.