KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: Roberto Mancini was plotting Manchester City’s reach for a fourth piece of silverware in three season aware that his managerial reign may last only two further games.
Speculation has grown steadily about the Italian’s future after a disappointing league title defence exacerbated by European failure. Cup Final morning dawned with reports that Manuel Pellegrini was poised to head north from Malaga once the English and Spanish seasons had concluded.
The situation recalled the haunting of Mark Hughes who took City into a league game against Sunderland three years ago aware that Mancini was coming up on his shoulder.
Mancini might have hoped that Champions League qualification plus a trophy would secure him an extension. Owner Sheikh Mansour and director of Txiki Begiristain appeared to have decided otherwise what the Wembley outcome.
The agent of Pellegrini, a 59-year-old Chilean, met Begiristain two weeks ago in Madrid. Simultaneously City lost all hope of beating Manchester United to the Premier crown and the turbulence surrounding Mancini’s tactical and personnel decision was thrown into full focus.
On the eve of the game Mancini had philosophised: “I won seven trophies at Inter Milan in four years and they sacked me. This is football, and I know football enough to understand this situation.
“I want only to do my job well and to continue to win every year. This is my target. I don’t have other situations where I want to improve. I think it is important for every club to have a manager who can take a lot of decisions about the team but now it is important we win this trophy.”