KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: Manager Roberto Mancini was gracious in defeat but, despite words to the contrary, appeared resigned to his fate after Manchester City’s FA Cup Final upset against Wigan Athletic.
Under inevitable questioning about his future, he pointed a finger of blame at the club for not quelling increasing media speculation than Manuel Pellegrini has been lined up to replace him at Eastlands.
Mancini spent minimal time in his post-mortem summing up the 1-0 defeat which saw were punished decisively by Ben Watson in the last of normal time for the earlier double-yellow expulsion of Pablo Zabaleta.
He said: “I don’t think we played a good game. It is unusual for us because in a final we should be a lot better. But we didn’t play our football. Probably we didn’t deserve to lose but [to concede] a goal in the last minute is difficult.
“We had two incredible chances where we could score [but] if we couldn’t win then I’m happy for [Wigan manager Roberto]Martinezto win this trophy.
“I’m very sorry for my players and for the club and for our supporters because there were 40,000 of our people and they deserved for us to win this game.”
Mancini accepted that the second yellow card for Zabaleta, for going through Callum McManaman, had been the appropriate decision by referee Andre Marriner. He said: “It was a correct yellow card because we made a big mistake: we had the ball and lost it.”
After that it was all about Mancini’s future following morning reports that City have lined up Malaga’s Pellegrini.
He said: “I don’t know if this is true or not. I don’t think [so] but I know football and in football everything can happen. In one or two weeks you’ll know if it’s true or not.
“You [the media] have spoke about this for the last six months and in last weeks – too much – and I don’t know why the club didn’t stop this because I don’t think it was correct but I don’t think it is true.
“Anyway it’s not my problem. I work always 100pc serious and after that there is someone else who decides about me. I’m the manager and I’m sure we did a good job in these three years.”
Asked whether he had challenged the club about the Pellegrini reports, Mancini said: “I don’t need to because there is no reason for me.”
The reports of his imminent replacement, he told a radio interviewer, were “rubbish.”
Reviewing the season, in which City will finish runners-up also in the Premier League and fell at the Champions League group stage, Mancini again blamed errors in the transfer market last summer.
He said: “Our target at the start of the season was to try to win the Premier League but our mistakes started in the last [transfer] market because we didn’t do enough.
“After you win a Premier League then the second year is more difficult. We also had some problems because we lost players in a key moment. We lost Yaya Toure [to the African Cup of Nations] for one month.
“But, in the end, with all the problems we had we did a good season and when you get to a final you can lose in one game even against [a team such as]Wigan who are playing against relegation.
“I’m disappointed personally because I am used to playing to win every year but I know football enough to understand why we didn’t win this year and I’m the manager and I take all the responsibility because it’s normal.
“But last year, when Manchester United lost the Premier League and didn’t reach the FA Cup Final, they did not have all this that we did – or you [the media] did – and they did the same season like us this time.”