at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Dublin – Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, will not be given money in January to bolster the squad which has proved inadequate for the exacting challenge of the Champions League. Only an injury emergency will trigger any more player investment this season.
A move for Falcao, the Colombian striker, is out of the question, Daniele de Rossi does not fit the club's age profile and the fact that Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell were among the manager's top-five targets this summer gives him no room to argue that he has not been backed financially to build on last season's Premier league title. The two Englishmen have not featured prominently, and Sinclair barely at all, but they were alongside Eden Hazard and Robin van Persie at the top of Mancini's list, with De Rossi as the back-up option if the move for Javi Garcia failed.
Mancini declared after the draw with Real Madrid saw him fail to deliver on this season's targeted Champions League second-round place that City needed “to be passionate” about succeeding in Europe “and to improve our team”. But having completed the first, heavy investment phase of their ownership, the Abu Dhabi owners have now moved to a second “commercial” period, driving up revenues. Mancini has played all his cards in the market and though it is an article of faith for the Abu Dhabis that their manager's door has not been a revolving one, he needs an emphatic Premier League campaign if he is to be confident of extending his City into a fourth full season.
His Middle East employers know that it will reflect better on them if he succeeds. They find sackings distasteful.
City understandably cite their current Premier League position when doubts are expressed about their development.
“The Premier League table says something different (about our progress). We are very hard to beat, top of the table and defending well, so we can't be doing that badly can we?” says Sergio Aguero.
His face currently beams out from the last of an imaginative poster sequence, plastered to the Etihad stadium's exterior, which is a timeline of the afternoon City took the title. That day offered drama of the kind we may never witness again in the Premier League, though a breathless finish might not be enough this season. With Europe gone, Mancini is left needing something more emphatic from the bunch of players with whom he has thrown in his lot. – The Independent