LONDON: Manchester City are slipping into a comparative crisis. They are third in the Premier League and still alive – just – in the Champions League. But manager Roberto Mancini is clearly a man under pressure.
Saturday’s goalless draw at West Ham saw England midfielder James Milner injured in the warm-up. Then Mancini laid into Mario Balotelli for poor finishing.
Mancini used all his four strikers but despite 18 efforts and 61pc possession they could not find a goal. Eden Dzeko, given a rare start, was a shadow of the player who is usually a supersub. The manager said: “We missed some incredible chances; it was two points lost.”
No wonder speculation around Eastlands is rife that Mancini has urged new director of football Txiki Begiristain to try to outbid Barcelona for Brazilian superstar Neymar.
Mancini needs not only goals but the assurance of time.
For a second successive season he is facing the prospect of his highly-expensive team being eliminated from the Champions League at the halfway stage. Victory against Ajax on Tuesday is essential and even then City would need to win at home to Real Madrid and against Borussia in Dortmund.
Behind the scenes Mancini’s personnel and tactical options are confusing. He had a public spat with Micah Richards over the switch to three at the back instead of four and skipper Vincent Kompany is not the same dominating player he was last season.
David Silva, Richards, Milner and England centre-back Joleon Lescott will all miss the Ajax tie through injury.