Even in victory, this edition of the Manchester City Football Club can look petty and selfish.
The match itself was absolutely an afterthought to most City fans, who were still coming to terms with the sacking of a popular manager who had ended City's 44-year league-title drought.
As expressed by Manchester City Supporters Club general secretary Kevin Porter to The Guardian, City fans still are not totally sold on the exigent need the team had to rid itself of Mancini.
"(A)s fans our interest is a successful football team, success and trophies, and under Roberto that is what we got," said Porter.
"Of course we are disappointed we have not won a trophy this season but in the eyes of City fans, that is not failure. When you have waited as long as we have for trophies, then the three Roberto has brought in three years are certainly keeping us happy."
As usual, though, it is always easier to fire one manager than it is to fire 20 players. Even while Mancini's ex-charges were supposed to be focused on the task at hand at Madejski Stadium, reports of their joy at Mancini's termination were popping up like spring daisies.
Per the Daily Mail: "City were at Reading...having already made it clear Mancini will not be missed. Staying in London following Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat, several spent much of the time sending messages to reporters outside trying to find out if their manager had been sacked."
Naturally, no City player would ever be man enough to go on the record. So the Daily Mail was stuck with the sad anonymity of the craven: "One message from a first-team player simply asked: ‘Is it time to put the champagne on ice?'"
The Telegraph delivered the same message with a bit more restraint: "(S)enior players privately voiced their annoyance with Mancini’s training methods and obsession with working on minor details of defending, while his reluctance to rotate his squad and rest key players also led to frustration...the players are almost unanimously happy to see the back of Mancini."
Perusing these quotes, it is almost impossible to understand how any of these players can look each other in the eye.
Did they expect Mancini to praise them for earning three points of a possible 18 in Champions League play?
Was having their Premier League trophy repossessed by Manchester United—IN LATE APRIL—the plan all along?
And, presented with the opportunity to save a modicum of face, was it really the optimal outcome to lose the FA Cup to now-relegated Wigan Athletic?
The carping of any City player over the fallen Mancini is quite galling considering how most of the players at the club were "all hat, no cattle" before Mancini led them to an FA Cup and a Premier League title.
Perhaps attempting to prove that it was all the manager's fault after all, City dispatched Reading with relative ease in a 2-0 victory that could have been far more lopsided. The Sky Blues bombarded Reading keeper Alex McCarthy with 30 shots, 11 of them on target, per ESPNFC.com.
That's just great.
Three days before, facing another doomed Premier League side with a trophy at stake, City managed half as many shots and split possession with Wigan nearly evenly.
The juxtaposition of these two matches, coming against similarly outgunned, lesser sides, leaves City fans with two really unsavory choices.
Either City's players choked unconscionably against Wigan, or they laid down in a shameful, unprofessional manner against Wigan in order to guarantee Mancini's exit.
So, in truth, City did itself no favors in taking care of Reading with relative ease and salting away a second-place finish in the table.
All City did against Reading was prove beyond reasonable doubt how bad apples always ruin the rest of the barrel.
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