Which Premier League manager will get fired first

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Out of my system

My decision is implacable, because we're not compatible
I'm gonna get him out of my system

Well Roberto Mancini has certainly started to get people out his system quite ruthlessly. Craig Bellamy told his only allowed move is to Cardiff, Robinho being told to find another club, Santa Cruz looks to be on his way out to be replaced by players that he is happier working with. One wonders how much money he will spend and lost before he has got rid of everyone Eriksson and Hughes signed and replaced them with his own players.

Mancini seems to have a good idea of what system he wants to play and if you don’t like it he simply gets rid of you but will the spend lots of cash approach work for him. He seems like a man intent on buying every player on the market but if he plays the system he did against Spurs how long will Adebayor, Balotelli, Tevez, Jo or other players happily sit on the bench. It is a juggling act which if he gets right may well yield great results but if discontent starts to rear it’s head and he can’t stem it will he become another high-profile managerial casualty. Mark Hughes was sacked due to having the wrong trajectory of results yet Mancini did not provide much of an improvement on City’s position although they finished 1 place higher in 5th than they were at the time of Hughes’ sacking there is nothing to say that Hughes himself wouldn’t have delivered a 5th place finish and after Hughes had led them to the Carling Cup semi-final City were knocked out by neighbours United (who Hughes had a good record against) and therefore delivered no progress on that front either although they did reach the 5th round of the FA Cup 2 wins against Middlesbrough and Scunthorpe hardly represented a massive return on investment for the manager.

City however seem to have a plan and Mancini is busy putting it into operation and as it involves publicly tapping up other clubs players and offering them substantial financial increases to entice them City are rapidly becoming more unpopular than Chelsea, United and Liverpool especially as they haven’t exactly had a massive amount of recent trophy success that would allow them to be perceived as a step-up for ambitious players. City have the finance to become a great club and certainly have some fantastic players but it is hard to see the current owners having a lot of patience if things slip early on. City fans point to Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Inter and Juventus as examples of teams able to consistently by success yet £250M didn’t do Real or Pellegrini any good last year and also overlooks that Serie A and La Liga are not as competitive as the Premier League although the owners are far more impatient.

Mancini will not get the sort of time that Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or Rafael Benitez got to assemble a good side but is more likely to get a similar time period that Claudio Ranieri got from Abrahamovic and come may he may well rue the treatment of one Mr Craig Bellamy.

Paul Scholes was asked recently whether he thought the investment at City and close rivalry was a good thing to which his reply was “I’d rather see them back in Division 3”. It will take a lot less for Mancini to be out of Manchester City’s system if he gets knocked out of the Cups early this year and isn’t in the top 4. In football lots of money does not lend itself to lots of patience.

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Up Against It

Wrapped in nostalgia to queue for a show
Back to Trafalgar, One kiss then I'll go

Newcastle United returned to the big time last night and due to the cruelty of the fixture computer resumed their familiar refrain of losing at Old Trafford. February 12th 1972 was the day they last got 3 points at Old Trafford and they haven’t won since I was born 10 days later. While it may be mere coincidence that Newcastle haven’t won away at Manchester United while I’ve been alive (and if it isn’t then it will be a long time until they do) as a United fan it is really rather fun looking forward to what seems to be guaranteed points every season.

The main problem for Newcastle fans is that while they are the eternal optimists they can’t help looking back and comparing the current squad with teams of yore whether it bee the FA Cup winning side of the 1950s, the Malcolm McDonald led side of the 1970s or more recently Kevin Keegan’s irrepressible side of the 1980s and the problem this time around is the current squad doesn’t even have better players than the side that got relegated 2 years ago. A lot of the blame is directed at Mike Ashley since he decided that NUFC would be run like a business (i.e. have to make a profit or at least break even) and that Keegan would waste the transfer money he was given unless someone else scouted out the players for him. The first was an excellent idea the second a fatal mistake that led to the Geordies spiralling down into the Championship on the last day of the season.

The key question this season is do Newcastle have a good enough team to stay up and do well? It is hard to judge on last night’s performance as United were excellent with Paul Scholes imperious in central midfield but you do fear that Andy Carroll is not a number 9 in the mould of Andy Cole, Alan Shearer or Les Ferdinand and unless a more prolific striker comes in then they may suffer, especially if they continue with the defensive generosity that Keegan’s team were noted for. It is a lot easier to outscore the opposition if you have a partnership of Cole/ Beardsley or Shearer/ Ferdinand up front that if you are starting with Andy Carroll and Alan Smith.

I also have some concerns about how inventive the team is. There is no David Ginola, Rob Lee, Ruel Fox or Scott Sellars type player to provide the invention needed and there is some doubt that Gutierrez or Routledge can fill that gap satisfactorily. I have no doubts that Newcastle will stay up but it will be a long hard slog and unless they get some invention and guile into their forward play rather than having Carroll as a human battering ram then they will be up against it or otherwise with their penultimate game away to Chelsea as they go past Trafalgar Square it may be one season then they’ll go.

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