Sunday 18 March 2018 / 05:06 AM

FA Cup: Mancini’s Last Game?

This week’s football headlines have understandably been dominated by the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, however all eyes will be focused on proceedings at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon when Manchester City take on Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final – a match which could well be Roberto Mancini’s last at the City helm.

Nobody quite expected Fergie to depart from Old Trafford, but the same certainly cannot be said for City boss Roberto Mancini whose future has been at the front of much speculation for the majority of the campaign.

The cup has offered the Citizens a degree of consolation following another early Champions League exit and a heavy battering from their main adversaries United in the Premier League, but a victory at the weekend may not be enough to keep the Italian in charge going into next season.

Many would argue that Mancini has failed in 2012/13 considering the amount of quality he has at his disposal – and his tactics have left something to be desired on quite a few occasions at key periods over the past few months.

City have been a clear second best to a hungry United side who were adamant on restoring their authority after losing the title on the last day of the season – an outcome which should have boosted City’s momentum and desire to maintain their status as the best club in the country.

It would perhaps be unfair to say that complacency set in amongst the squad at the Etihad and if anything, their European collapse suggested that it was nerves that played a huge part in their sudden demise.

Mancini should, nonetheless, have prepared his men for an even tougher challenge and kept faith with his best stars as opposed to using a rotational policy, which naturally rocks the rapport and stability of any team.

Prone to turning in the odd flat performance, City are unquestionably in danger of being dealt a killer blow in the final by Wigan unless they are fired up for success as a unit, carrying no passengers.

The Latics have proved time and time again amidst relegation struggles that they can beat anyone on their day and Roberto Martinez will be well aware of City’s frailties – and the current uncertainty surrounding his touchline counterpart.

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has been roundly touted and backed to become Mancini’s successor and feeling is that he will be installed before all the action gets underway once again in August.

Mancini’s tenure, were it to end now, would create a mass of debate in terms of whether or not he fulfilled expectations since arriving back in 2010.

If he is to go after the Wembley showpiece, he will always be remembered as the man who brought the glory days back to City whilst simultaneously masterminding a memorable triumph over the red half of Manchester.

Their slide during 2012/13 however may leave many fans wondering exactly when those kind of successes will return as the club has visibly lost a massive chunk of ground on United and the top European clubs that they were confident of toppling just a year ago.

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Chris Kisby

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