Roberto Mancini declared himself the ‘best manager in England’ yesterday as one of his players admitted that Manchester City must win a trophy this season to save the Italian from the sack.
The Barclays Premier League champions face an increasingly desperate fight to retain their title and could be 15 points behind rivals Manchester United by the time they play third-placed Chelsea on Sunday.
Mancini’s best hope of success appears to be the FA Cup after City were drawn against Championship strugglers Barnsley in the quarterfinals. Failure to deliver could put his job in jeopardy with speculation continuing to grow about possible replacements despite ex-Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola’s decision to take over at Bayern Munich.
However, Mancini defended his record yesterday and claimed that it cannot be matched by any of his Premier League rivals.
‘In the last 15 months I am the best manager in England,’ said Mancini.
‘Someone says for six months that Manchester City would change manager, Guardiola would come in, and after Guardiola went to Bayern Munich, now another manager.
‘I won one Premier League, one FA Cup, one Charity Shield. There is not another manager who’s won like me in the last 15 months. I can do nothing, but it is the reality.’
City will not rush into making any decisions and are expected to take stock of the situation this summer — just as they did last year when Mancini’s side overturned an eight-point deficit with six games to go to pip United to the title, earning the manager a new five-year contract.
He will be judged not only on his level of success this season but also the margin of failure.
City chiefs are known to be disappointed with the club’s Champions League performance this season and concerned about United’s increasing advantage at the top of the table.
Mancini’s team are just four points ahead of Chelsea and it will be seen as a significant step backwards if they do not secure one of this season’s two automatic Champions League places.
Defender Kolo Toure yesterday underlined just how important the next three months will be in determining Mancini’s fate.
Asked if City must win a trophy to make him safe from the sack, Toure said: ‘Yes, of course.
‘It’s very important for us to win because that will help the manager to be here for sure. We don’t want to go a season without winning something. We’ve delivered and we need to maintain that by winning trophies. For a team like City it’s difficult to go a season without winning one trophy, and for us the FA Cup is really important and the League as well.
‘When you win the Premier League for the first time you want to keep it. It’s very difficult at the moment, but I think the season is not finished and we’re looking to try to win our next game.’
Toure insisted that City have not given up hope of catching United, but the Ivory Coast international knows how crucial it will be to at least finish in second place ahead of Chelsea and their other rivals. ‘I think that’s very important,’ he added. ‘Chelsea is going to be a tough game. They are behind us and trying to catch us. We’re looking back as well. They are coming and we just need to run from them.
‘For sure we’re not going to give up now. We will keep going and putting United under pressure until the end of the season, definitely.
‘What happened last season can maybe happen again.
‘All the players we’ve got are used to winning before they came here and we will fight to win.’ – Daily Mail