In Depth

Man City sack Roberto Mancini, their best manager in 40 years

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini favourite to take over after Italian fails to achieve 'stated targets'

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

IT'S A HARD life being a football manager. In November Roberto Di Matteo was given the boot barely six months after guiding Chelsea to the most glorious night of their lives, the defeat of Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, and now Roberto Mancini has been sacked by Manchester City less than a year after he masterminded their first Premier League title in 44 years.

This season hasn't exactly been a disaster for the Sky Blues. They are runners-up to Manchester United in the league, and on Saturday they appeared in the final of the FA Cup for only the second time in 25 years. In days gone by that would have been marked down as a pretty good season – particularly for City, who, only 15 years ago, were languishing in Division Two.

But we live in an age when the moneymen care more about silverware than stability, so the fact that Mancini couldn't add to the City trophy cabinet meant that in the eyes of the club's Arab owners he had failed. The result? The chop.

The Italian's three-year reign at the Etihad ended last night when City released a statement explaining why they had parted company with their most successful manager of the last 40 years.

"Despite everyone's best efforts, the Club has failed to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League," ran the announcement. "This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the Club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013/14 season and beyond."

There was also a personal note from Khaldoon Al Mubarak in the statement, the club chairman praising Mancini's record during his spell with the Sky Blues. "Roberto's record speaks for itself and he has the respect and gratitude of Sheikh Mansour, myself and the board for all of his hard work and commitment over the last three-and-a-half years," said Al Mubarak.

"He has clearly also secured the love and respect of our fans. He has done as he promised and delivered silverware and success, breaking the Club's 35-year trophy drought and securing the title in 2012."

The sacking of Mancini is no great surprise. Even before Saturday's FA Cup Final, there were rumours linking Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini with the club and the lacklustre manner of City's 1-0 defeat to Wigan sealed Mancini's fate less than a year after he signed a new five-year deal.

According to the BBC, City's  carefully-worded statement suggests that it wasn't just the lack of on-field success that convinced the board it was time to get rid of the 48-year-old Mancini.

"What has gone against him is his man-management style," said BBC Radio 5 live senior football reporter Ian Dennis, pointing to the use of the word 'holistic' in the statement. "It is other issues other than performance which have undermined him. When you look at the flashpoints that Mancini has had this season that gives you an indication of the difference in holistic approach that City are looking for."

While assistant manager Brian Kidd will take interim responsibility for the remaining two games of the season, and the post-season tour to the United States, Pellegrini is the overwhelming favourite to replace Mancini in the long-term. In the short-term, however, City will have to sit out a storm of protest from their fans.

Supporters Club spokesman Kevin Parker told Sky Sports that the sacking of Mancini is his "lowest point" in 40 years as a fan. "My phone has gone crazy with messages from members of the supporters' club and friends who are all just very, very disappointed about what has happened," said Parker. "He's been a massive success. I've been a season ticket holder for 40 years - we've waited all our lives to win trophies like the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Community Shield."

But former City striker David White claims the club's owners are relying on the fickle nature of football fans to get through the storm. "The new manager comes in and if he starts well then you know things are quickly forgotten."

It's a hard life being a football manager.

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