“We didn’t deserve to lose this game.”
Cosmically, perhaps none of us deserve to lose games. That carries the implication there’s something inherently wrong with some of us, a thought too morose to leverage in a post-match interview. In turn, perhaps nobody deserves to win games either, so if Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini’s thesis is that the existential irrelevance of soccer games means all matches should end in draws, I’m down with that.
What I’m less “down with” is managers (typically losing ones) insisting the result is somehow undeserved or unfair. Whether it’s true or not, it’s lost all meaning.
So Roberto Mancini thinks his team didn’t deserve to lose. While I empathize, my first reaction is to wonder. Has he not seen a recent Manchester United game? Because a lot of them play out like Sunday’s Manchester Derby, and although many people complain that United doesn’t deserve their results, Mancini is the manager of one of the top clubs in the world. He should be smarter than that.
“We played, and they won.”
In context (video, below), this quote came off implying Manchester City came to win, United was doing something else, yet the Red Devils got full points. It seems strange for somebody like me, a blogger, to have to remind a man reared in Italian soccer that there’s more than one way to win a game.
There wasn’t much that separated City and United on Sunday. United, scoring on all three of their shots, executed better. That they did so earlier in the match allowed them to play passively though most of the game. City dominated most of the match, but playing from behind, that wasn’t surprising. They did well to pull back two goals from the league leaders.
But both teams “played.” United just played differently. This not only happens, it happens almost every game.
“For 20 minutes, they didn’t touch the ball, and the first chance they had, they scored.”
As Alex Ferguson’s Sunday tactics implied, you get no credit for touching the ball. You get credit for goals, which require touching the ball, but you don’t need to do so exclusively to score more than your opponent.
If your team touches the ball for 20 straight minutes and doesn’t score, that’s not necessarily a point in your favor, nor is your inability to stop the other guy the second they get the ball.
Stepping away from my pedantic little pedestal, it’s not uncommon for a manager to use the post-match media rounds as to vent. I only wish the complaints were less predictable. If managers are really going to bend reality to their liking, I’d rather them be absurd about it. Well, more absurd about it.
Here are Roberto Mancini’s real comments: