Soccer

As United transitions, City's managerial future in disarray

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The Canadian Press
5/13/2013 8:55:38 AM
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LONDON -- As Manchester United undergoes a smooth handover of power, Manchester City appears to be in disarray.

City manager Roberto Mancini has publicly expressed anger that the club is not disputing reports that Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has been lined up to replace him.

For his part, Pellegrini is only denying that a deal is in place, leaving open the possibility that he could be headed to the Premier League.

"I deny that as of today I am the new coach of Manchester City," Pellegrini said. "I have not signed any agreement with anyone."

The public silence from City, though, is speaking volumes.

City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak and his board members have not made a public statement supporting Mancini as the club's season has imploded.

And Mancini was visibly frustrated this weekend that the directors have decided not to shut down the reports that Pellegrini will replace him after almost four years in charge.

"This problem has come out because we didn't stop all these things that you wrote for six months," Mancini told reporters in the wake of Saturday's FA Cup final loss to Wigan. "It's been too much. I don't understand why."

Mancini is the manager who ended City's 35-year drought trophy by winning the FA Cup in 2011, and then delivered the team's first English title in 44 years last May.

City, though, only won the Premier League on goal difference after scoring twice in the final moments against Queens Park Rangers.

QPR's London ground was being used by Mancini to train his team ahead of Tuesday's penultimate league match at Reading.

By City's standards, before being bought by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, finishing second in the league this month would have been a remarkable achievement.

But a team that has benefited from around $1 billion of Abu Dhabi investment in five years has failed to build on its position of strength.

The Premier League trophy was conceded to Manchester United with four games to go, giving manager Alex Ferguson the perfect retirement gift before handing over to David Moyes.

And City has not established itself as a forced in Europe, exiting the Champions League at the group stage for the second straight season.

The FA Cup gave City a chance to end the season with a trophy but relegation-threatened Wigan won the final 1-0 on Saturday.

"The team looks without passion, desire and (it's) difficult to find an answer why everything went wrong," City defender Pablo Zabaleta said.

Captain Vincent Kompany is calling for calm amid the turmoil at City.

"I think Man City fans just need to bear with us," he said. "We will come here again and win a lot of trophies in the future. We have proven it and it is just a matter of time."

It shouldn't take long to see who will manage the team next season.

And, for Mancini, history is repeating itself.

The Italian exited Inter Milan in 2008 after three successive title wins after discovering he faced being fired in a newspaper.

"At that moment I understood that maybe it was true," Mancini said.

But Mancini also replaced Mark Hughes at City in 2009 under blurred circumstances.

Mancini was forced to concede he had met City about the job two weeks before Hughes was fired -- a move that enraged fans at the time.

On Saturday, those fans were bellowing abuse about Pellegrini at Wembley Stadium while chanting support for Mancini.

However muddled his departure is proving to be, Mancini will always be the manager who ended the club's long-wait for silverware.

"For this reason we are very popular with the support," Mancini said. "I love them, they love me and I'm happy for this. If in the end I will leave I will be the first supporter of Manchester City in the future."

Roberto Mancini (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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