Roberto Mancini is copping the inevitable flak at Manchester City as they head towards their second successive Champions League group stage elimination. But he is not entirely to blame.
Roberto Mancini raised a valid point in his pre-match programme notes yesterday. He mentioned that the doom and gloom surrounding the side betrays their league position.
They are just two points off the leaders, yet Mancini was right to note that the criticism was more befitting of a side battling relegation. A sense of perspective must be required as always.
Nevertheless the competition in which Manchester City really wanted to make a statement this season was the Champions League, a continuation of their progression after being unlucky last season.
That dream looks to be over, even if it is still mathematically possible, it remains remote. Now the inquest is beginning.
No doubt the man in the firing line is Roberto Mancini, and his failures in the Champions League also with Inter Milan highlight doubts over whether he is the man to take the club forward.
And the manager does have problems of his own creation, his tactics and formation, his constant bickering with players, Mario Balotelli, but most of his problems are not of his own creation.
City's board must accept the blame for their Champions League failure, rather than simply point the finger at their manager and look up Pep Guardiola's phone number.
Mancini knew the side needed strengthening this summer, but his hands were tied. He wanted his club to put up big money to sign players like Thiago Silva, Daniele de Rossi, and Robin van Persie.
Instead he ended up with Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Richard Wright.
In fact City did not sign a single player until mid-August when Rodwell arrived, with City leaving most of their dealings until transfer deadline day, leaving new arrivals without the benefit of a pre-season to integrate themselves with their manager and teammates.
Mancini wanted top players but instead received ones best described as 'adequate yet promising.' They still have a strong chance in the Premier League and may triumph, but the scar of their Champions League failure will haunt them all season long.
Problems surrounding the transfers were beyond Mancini's control too. He inherited the problematic duo of Santa Cruz and Adebayor, or large wages who City simply could not shift. This left the club unwilling to sanction any huge outlays until late on, by which time it seems to be a case of too little too late.
Don't think Mancini is solely to blame here, but equally he is not blameless. He cannot rely on world class signing each summer, as much as he would like to. With the squad he has he still should have been able to come out with two wins home and away to Ajax.
Yet City's board pinpointing everything on him would simply be a diversionary tactic to their own shortcomings, and already there has been a power shift at the Etihad behind the scenes. Brian Marwood has got the boot, and Txiki Begiristan has been brought in.
Intriguingly De Rossi has again been linked with City today with his agent spotted in Manchester. Perhaps Mancini is getting his way, and big backing, after all...
Do you agree? Should City have backed their manager in the transfer market earlier?
image: © markhillary