Mancini's fate appears set

Mike Hewitt

And then the questions came.

After a gentle introduction to talk of his disappointment at losing yesterday's FA Cup final ('we didn't play our game') and his sadness for the fans, players and club, it all began. Relentlessly so.

No room for questions about failing to cope with Wigan's tactical approach, why there was a flatness about his side or the rationale behind the decision to take off Carlos Tevez in favour of Jack Rodwell. It was straight down to business.

And this meant just one item on the agenda: Mancini's future.

The storm of course broke on the eve of the final. Clumsy and ill-timed and always going to cast a huge shadow over City's preparation; and in the event of a defeat, further stoke the fires surrounding the Italian.

When pressed on whether he believed the club had talked to Manuel Pellegrini, Mancini was initially adamant, saying "I don't think it's true...I am the manager" but he did concede that he would feel "stupid" if the reports did indeed turn out to be true.

Still the questions came. "Would you be disappointed if you were the owner" (I am disappointed) and an even more direct "do you deserve to keep your job" (not my problem). Mancini, whilst not on the defensive, was clearly irked, stating that it had been "a good season" and painting the owners and those in charge as "sensible", perhaps more than anything trying to convince himself that an impending change is not nigh.

Mancini will know he possesses a huge amount of credit with the fan base (which was again in evidence yesterday) and pointedly Mancini did fire one broadside at the club saying that "these [questions over his future] have been going on for six months...I don't know why the club haven't stopped this". Both Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain have maintained low profiles in their roles at the club, with very few public utterances and nothing whatsoever to indicate which way they intend to move in the summer with respect to their managers position.

A couple of months ago I wrote that whilst I had no idea which way they would go, I would not be surprised by either outcome. The course does now appear to be set against Mancini remaining in charge, perhaps a decision even coming ahead of the final two games this week.

It was truly a 24 hours to forget for Mancini and City. It had been hoped that an FA Cup triumph would provide some gloss on an overwhelmingly frustrating, and at times, disappointing season. But, as Wigan danced with delight on the Wembley turf the prevailing dark skies painted a perfect picture of City's mood - one that is not likely to ease anytime soon.

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