All the signs at Man City point to Mancini be­ing a dead man walking

Midweek Sport - - THURSDAY FEBRUARY 14 -

three points by the com­bi­na­tion of Ser­gio Aguero’s bril­liance and Pepe Reina’s brain fart.

Pablo Za­baleta (be­low) and James Mil­ner could hold their heads up high – but too many of their team-mates were just go­ing through the mo­tions. They didn’t press the ball, they didn’t work to­gether.

In short, they didn’t look like they wanted it.

Sim­i­lar sig­nals were emit­ted from the boss. Roberto Mancini was all shrugs, smirks and dead­pan in the post-match press con­fer­ence. He looked like a man who’s seen his re­flec­tion in the ex­cu­tioner’s blade.

And per­haps that’s the root of City’s prob­lems right now.

From the out­side, City doesn’t feel like a club. Mancini, de­spite sign­ing a five-year con­tract in the sum­mer, looks like a dead man walking.

The play­ers look like they know the same thing. Old pros of­ten trot out the line that play­ers will fight for a man­ager they like. If that’s true, Mancini may as well pack his bags now.

On Satur­day, City turned in their worst per­for­mance of the sea­son – a gut­less dis­play against a Southamp­ton side that had won just five games out of 25 in the league be­fore Mancini’s men came to town.

It’s left a yawn­ing 12point gap to Manch­ester United.

“Maybe two play­ers played to their stan­dard,” said Mancini af­ter the 3-1 de­feat.

Why is that, we won­der?

The Ital­ian seems to have had a cob on for much of the sea­son af­ter de­mand­ing City sign Robin van Per­sie – then watch­ing help­lessly as he went to United. he Dutch­man’s 19th league goal of the sea­son in the win over Ever­ton was just more salt in a wound Mancini has been scratch­ing all sea­son.

Some book­ies have al­ready paid out on the ti­tle go­ing to Old Traf­ford with 12 games to play.

Mancini, too, asked for Eden Haz­ard and Javi Martinez.

He got Scott Sin­clair and Jack Rod­well. They have each started

Tonly two Pre­mier League games. For that, the fin­ger must be pointed at the sport­ing direc­tors.

But at times, it seems Mancini is too busy point­ing fin­gers when his tac­tics and de­ci­sion-mak­ing have baf­fled just as much as his club’s trans­fer pol­icy.

The bad blood be­tween the lay­ers of man­age­ment at City seems to have poured into all four cor­ners of the Eithad Sta­dium and it’s re­sulted in a strange feel to the place.

City now have only the FA Cup as a real­is­tic tro­phy aim – and you can guar­an­tee that wasn’t the aim put be­fore Mancini when he inked his bumper deal. Yet, at a time when the troops need ral­ly­ing and chests need beat­ing, Mancini has kicked his men while they were down. Throw­ing Joe Hart (above) un­der the bus for his mis­take at St Mary’s wasn’t the first time he has sin­gled out in­di­vid­u­als when faced by tough ques­tions.

It’s hardly the ac­tion of a man try­ing to make friends and in­flu­ence peo­ple.

Per­haps, in­stead, it’s the ac­tion of a man who has had enough.

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