Man City in turmoil as Mancini gets tough and player rift grows
Manager wields the axe, but could still lose his job with Patrick Vieira tipped to take over
MANCHESTER CITY have all but relinquished the Premier League title but are close to reclaiming their status as kings of calamity as details of the fall-out from defeat at Southampton continue to emerge.
Manager Roberto Mancini refused to speak to his players or even go into the dressing room after the 3-1 reverse, which ended any realistic hopes they had of overhauling Manchester United in the title race. Instead, says The Times, he sent a lackey into the dressing room to retrieve his belongings, and then caught a flight to Italy.
Widespread changes to the team for the FA Cup clash with Leeds on Sunday are now expected and talk of a rift with the squad is rife.
Defenders Joelon Lescott and Javier Garcia are expected to be axed, along with midfielders Gareth Barry, who scored a comical own goal at Southampton, and Samir Nasri. England goalkeeper Joe Hart could also get the chop and Carlos Tevez, an unused substitute in the last two games, is expected to return.
However, the chances of the Italian keeping his job at the end of the season now appear slim. His side needs to rediscover its best form if he is to retain the faith of the club's Abu Dhabi owners, says The Times. Relations with the players have hit a "new low" and "with displeasure at Mancini's autocratic methods mounting, it remains to be seen if he can elicit the reaction he wants".
The Independent points out that City chief executive Ferran Soriano and sporting director Txiki Begiristain are the men who brought the curtain down on Frank Rijkaard's reign at Barcelona.
"The chances of Mancini taking the club to a second-place finish and winning a trophy, yet still being dismissed, are substantial," says the paper.
It has also been widely reported that Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal midfielder who now works behind the scenes at City, is being lined up to take over. According to the Daily Star the Frenchman is the "unanimous" choice of the players to take over at the club, once he has achieved his coaching badges.