What a week for Sir Alex Ferguson. He can sit back with his feet up and a glass of red wine in hand, looking back at a (26 year) job well done. Not only did he have time to wrestle the title from neighbours City before riding off into the sunset, but he has also successfully fought off yet another City manager, with Roberto Mancini sacked for a trophy less season.
No decision can ever be universally popular or unpopular, but the decision to oust Mancini has mostly been met with disapproval by the City fans. You can see why. They were bound to have a lot of affection for the man who had finally won the Premier League and silenced the banter that United fans had owned for decades. They must have grown pretty attached.
It must also be a frustrating situation for Man City fans as they have seen a golden era, under a successful manager, end so abruptly when across town their rivals (and everyone else for that matter) are celebrating the longevity of Sir Alex.
Oh how City would love to follow the blueprint laid out by United. It’s not that Fergie enjoyed success every season, even the legendary Scot is only human, but each time he didn’t achieve he regrouped and his United team would come back stronger than ever. We’ll never know if Mancini would have regrouped, he was never given the chance.
United could have sacked Ferguson during the barren spell at the beginning of his United career, they didn’t. They could have sacked him after he surrendered the league title to Blackburn in 1995, they didn’t and he reclaimed it in 1996. They could have sacked him in 1998 when United gave up a substantial lead to gift the title to Arsenal. They didn’t and Sir Alex repaid their faith with the famous treble in 1999. There is a pattern emerging.
The challenges of Chelsea under Mourinho and Ancelotti have both been batted away by Ferguson. Mancini has one poor season and he’s out. Well, I say poor season, they were runners up in the league and the FA Cup. I’m sure there are a few clubs out there who wouldn’t mind a season that bad. But there you have it.
Some could argue that that’s just modern football for you. Trigger happy foreign owners see to it that managerial tenures are often short. I’m sorry, but I’m not sure that “that’s just modern football for you” is justification enough to rid a successful man of his job. Credit where it’s due to the often unpopular Glazer family at United, who have given their manager the time and all the tools he needed to be successful.
That’s not to say that Mancini was perfect. His performances in the Champions League over the last two seasons have been unacceptable. Two group stage exits (one) for the Champions of England, not what would have been expected by the fans or demanded by the board.
Also, to say that the board has backed him in the transfer market would be an understatement. Mancini has had his gripes, minimal transfer activity this season including missing out on Robin van Persie. But overall City have spent big under Mancini. He had the resources to deliver.
He has also been criticised for his frosty relationship with many of his senior players, something that may well have hastened his exit with player power coming more into play each and every year.
But ultimately, for City to end a 44 year wait for a league title and then sack the manager 12 months later seems to be a bit of a wasted opportunity. Fergie’s gone, his reign of superiority is at an end. New manager David Moyes will need time to settle into his role and build his own team as all new managers do. City and Mancini could have struck while the iron was hot but will instead be starting from scratch as well.
For the first time in Premier League history the (likely) top 3 of United, City and Chelsea will all be starting next season with new managers. At least United and their fans know who theirs is. It’s likely that City’s will be Manuel Pellegrini and it’s likely that Chelsea’s will be José Mourinho, both more than able appointments but both with mammoth jobs to do in order to mould a title challenging team over the course of one summer.
Great news for Arsenal who seem to already have their house in order under Arséne Wenger. Beneficial too for Liverpool and Spurs whose managers have each had 12 months in the job and are better for it.
City could have missed a trick here by not taking advantage of this unprecedented unknowing at the top of next seasons Premier League. Pellegrini will have to deliver extremely quickly if he is going to justify the decision to replace a Premier League winning manager.
Wow, look at that. I feel bad for Manuel Pellegrini now. However, he will have a big budget and an even bigger opportunity next season to take the Premier League by the scruff of the neck, what with all the uncertainty at his title rivals. He’s already under enormous pressure to succeed at City and he’s not even left Málaga yet.
I guess that’s just modern football for you.
In this day and age you see managers sacked for less.