Yesterday was a rough day in the lafaitele household. After the first 10 minutes of the match, I looked over to my wife and told her we were going to lose the FA Cup final. We looked tired, uninspired, and as though we had no idea what to do with the ball. There was no discernable purpose to the passing.
I love Roberto Mancini. I really do. He has the fire and tenacity to inspire a team forward, despite any number of obstacles. He inspired a very flawed Manchester City team last season to overcome an 8 point deficit and win a title that will never be forgotten.
I'm also a little tired of Mancini. When his players need a different approach to motivation, he doesn't seem to have a plan B. He alienated many of the players this season, and struggled to get them to perform consistently.
More significantly to me is the fact that there isn't really a tactical identity to this team. We have all the skill in the world. Almost every team in Europe would take any one of our top 15 players. Why then, is it so easy to smother this collection of talent with the simplest formations?
Game after game this season, we were stymied by a team that could stay compact in defense, and then counter-attack down the wings. That's how we gave up two goals in our loss to United. It's how we lost at Sunderland, Southampton, Everton, and Tottenham.
Even in the games we managed to beat those teams, it always happened in very tight fashion.
As far as I've been able to tell, there is never really a tactical ideal that we are striving for. We seem to rely mostly on the skill of our players, especially or little play-makers up front.
Unfortunately, other teams have clued into this, and try to push them out of the box, leaving no space for then to play a through ball to the little strikers up front. It's the familiar movement from Nasri, where he moves farther and farther inside, then outside, each time being pushed away from the goal.
Mancini knows that teams are going to do this, and yet we do the same thing every time. To me, this is the crux of why Mancini will lose his job.
Things aren't going to improve with the arrival of new players. He bought the main ones that we have the current set of weaknesses with.
Next season if going to be even worse if something doesn't change. Can you imagine a Chelsea team with Mourinho at the helm? They'll sit deep against us, leaving no space to play, and then counter-attack at a frightening pace. I have a nightmare involving Falcao, Mata, Hazard, and Oscar flying down the wings on the break. If he goes there, they will win the league next season. I think that Arsenal (with the promised investment in the summer) will make the fight for second a tough one. Not to mention playing against a Moyes coached United team that will specialize in frustrating teams.
I don't think Roberto Mancini will be fired for finishing second in the league. It won't even be for the performance in the Champion's League. We have had the teams in the finals in our group two years running. This season we had two of the four semi-finalists in our group.
I think he'll be fired because the directors don't have confidence in him to make the team consistently better than we are right now. To be honest, I don't either.
I will always be grateful to our manager for the work he has done in getting this squad to win as much as they have. I think that we won the Premier League at least one full season before we had any right to. I will always wear my scarf with a fond smile for the success he brought.
I don't want to turn into a knee-jerk reaction club, firing managers when something doesn't go right.
I do think that Mancini has had three and a half seasons to make an imprint about where this team will be headed, and that it hasn't happened yet.
What are your thoughts? What would you do if you were in charge?