Manchester City must replace Roberto Mancini this summer.
The Italian—whose Premier League victory ranks amongst the most remarkable ever—continues to fail his side throughout the 2012-13 season. Individual errors from Joe Hart and Gareth Barry grabbed the headlines after City's recent 3-1 loss to Southampton, but the champions were doomed as soon as they stepped onto the St Mary's pitch (via The Guardian).
It all began with Mancini.
Starting Javi Garcia in central defence was a questionable move—especially with Kolo Toure on the bench. Despite winning 100 percent of his aerial battles and clearing the ball 11 times, the Spaniard's positioning and movement indicated he was extremely uncomfortable from the off.
Garcia failed to make a tackle during the match. His turn of speed didn't match up against Jason Puncheon and his physicality was dominated by Rickie Lambert. The former Benfica player—who has played as a central defender at previous clubs—suddenly looked like a man who was plunged into the deep end by his manager.
With City chasing the game, Mancini's substitutions underlined a manager who has lost sight of his squad's capabilities. After the effective performances of James Milner in recent weeks, Mancini's decision to start Samir Nasri was a glaring error from the outset. The Frenchman has scored just one goal and often gone missing in vital games this season, as City fans will remember against Manchester United.
Milner trotted on with 35 minutes to influence the game. Remarkably, Mancini saw it fit to sacrifice Joleon Lescott—the only natural centre back in City's defence—for the misfiring Aleksandar Kolarov. At this point, three fullbacks and a midfielder made up a struggling backline, but the madness didn't end there.
Ten minutes after sacrificing Lescott, Mancini brought on another fullback in the shape of Maicon. The Italian boss aimed to attack down the flanks whilst maintaining some kind of grip over Southampton's confident attack.
Mancini's team were never going to get the two goals needed for a draw. With Carlos Tevez absent due to "personal reasons" and Mario Balotelli sold, the Etihad boss conceded his side have a 10 percent chance of retaining the Premier League title (via The Daily Mail). While Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko provide enough firepower to win any match, the duo won't be able to win every match by themselves.
City boast two underrated talents that will be frustrated with their time at the club. Scott Sinclair has made two Premier League starts since joining the Blues in August 2012 and could have offered incision to the team's comeback quest (via The Daily Mail).
John Guidetti scored 20 goals in 23 appearances during his loan spell with Feyenoord last season. The 20-year-old returned to City reserve colours in January and immediately made an impact with a goal against Reading's second-string (via The Daily Mail). With Balotelli gone and Tevez missing, surely the young Swede deserves his chance to make an impact at senior level?
Poor man-management is beginning to define Roberto Mancini's City tenure. He continued to provide Balotelli with first-team opportunities when it was obvious his future resided elsewhere. Mancini should be commended for supporting his players, but as time progresses, it appears he is favouring those who need a firmer hand.
If individuals such as Guidetti aren't rewarded for producing consistent quality at lower levels, City fans will watch them exit without a whimper. In a year where the FIFA Financial Fair Play Rules loom for the first time, losing this kind of exciting talent would be a huge blow.
The Southampton game is not a one-off for Mancini. He has repeatedly produced surprising team selections and made sloppy substitutions in important fixtures. City's Champions League campaign best underlined a man who has consistently failed to choose his best team for each job.
In a week that saw Sir Alex Ferguson handpick Phil Jones to quash Marouane Fellaini, Mancini's naivety was amplified with each of his angry gestures from the sidelines.
This must change in the summer. Even if Roberto Mancini brings Manchester City silverware this season, the fans shouldn't be satisfied with his performance. Football is a game where managers must take responsibility for their mistakes and—just like misfiring players—should be axed if their performance doesn't match the quality of the club.
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