End began with loss of respect

On Saturday, before the start of the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic at Wembley, Roberto Mancini was already skating on thin ice. The defeat against a team that has been fighting to save the drop in the Premiership came as the last straw.

It is saying something that even winning the FA Cup win wouldn't have saved the Italian. The big money pumped into the club after take-over by Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 has changed the club's priorities and ambition. Success in the Premier League and in Europe was considered essential and Mancini failed on both counts this season.

Throughout the final at Wembley, City fans voiced their support for their manager. After all, he helped the club win the FA Cup and Premier League (which came after 44 years) during his three-year reign. This season, they finished second, and did not win a single game in the Champions League, to exit at the group stage.

While the lack of performance this season was an immediate reason, Mancini had lost his job for losing the dressing room too. Mancini's very public broadsides at Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott, arrived through the season.

Mario Balotelli headed to Milan after a training ground bust-up. Carlos Tevez never saw eye-to-eye with his manager. Mancini also ruffled feathers in the boardroom by publicly questioning the club's transfer policy before the start of the season. He has repeatedly said that losing Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie to Manchester United for the current season was why City could not mount a challenge for the title.

The arrival of Txiki Begiristain as the club's sporting director created a parallel power centre. Barcelona's former football director wanted to mould City the Catalan way. He soon went past the manager in the pecking order.

... contd.

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