It’s looking a bit like a video game where you score points for bad behaviour
Tell me whose jaw did not drop seeing Roberto Mancini sub Edin Dzeko with Nigel De Jong with City two goals down? Which manager does that? There is enough attacking talent left on the City bench to launch a third world war and Mancini goes for a holding midfielder. From what unfolded De Jong was ineffective in enforcement because Bayern were able to boss the ball around till the very end.
His rationalization that he was going to introduce Carlos Tevez, three to four minutes later does not hold water. I am not a supporter of Tevez, in fact, he should have been shipped out months ago, with City ending its association with the odious Kia Joorabchian, his agent. But in these circumstances which £50m valued striker would not take offense?
Let me step into Tevez’s shoes for a moment. He sees Dzeko being pulled by an manager unhappy at a poor performance by his frontline striker. It’s a singular opportunity for him to step in and turn the game around and he anticipates his manager’s beck and call. He has turned in some remarkable game changing performances in similar circumstances. Time for that old Tevez to emerge and once again capture the imagination of the fans and bask in a manager’s gratitude. That like for like substitution never happens. Instead, he sees De Jong trot out.
In that instant there was enough out there to fill a few weeks of psychotherapy sessions. Was Mancini signaling that his attack was incapable of coming back and his introduction of De Jong was based on damage limitation? Was he punishing Tevez by relegating him to a placeholder for past infractions? Tevez must have also internalized Dzeko’s unhappiness at being subbed for a defensive player.
The media and the fans are in an uproar for Tevez’s refusal to bow to Mancini when he finally came knocking. The knee jerk reaction is that he will never play for City again. In this brouhaha no one thought to question Mancini’s man management that set this snowball in motion. Yes, its Mancini’s prerogative to sub whomever he likes but this does nothing to enhance the image of a manager whose default mode is to play it safe at the first sign of trouble.
There is one more thing as there always is. City’s history is not a winning one, unlike Real, where high priced players do no favours playing for that side. It’s not an assemblage of mercenaries. It’s a bit telling when Mancini turns to James Milner, a player who is fast becoming an abstraction in City’s cash on steroids infusion, as a salve to the litany of bad behaviours wounding the club. Milner will still find minutes because of his positive work ethic and devotion to the club. A consideration that will see the owners change their tune next season should Mancini fail to get the best out of his players.