Following Saturday’s 2-0 shellacking at the hands of 10 man Everton, the talk at Manchester City has turned to the future of Roberto Mancini. According to first-team coach David Platt, despite a rash of poor results the Italian gaffer maintains the backing of the club’s owners and fans.
“There is an appreciation of Roberto from the supporters and the owners,” said Platt. “All I know is that during [Mancini’s] career he has won things. That is what his focus, desire and intensity is about. He won’t want stop wanting to win things. He will regroup from this and by the time we play Newcastle he will have 100% focus.”
Since arriving at City in 2009-10, Mancini raised the FA Cup in 2010-11 and won the league in 2011-12. This season a lack of consistency has seen the club crash out of Europe and (effectively) the title race. But for now, all is not lost. The club still sits 2nd in the table, four points clear of 3rd place Chelsea, and will face the winner of Manchester United verses Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.
Let’s not kid ourselves – City’s accomplishments over the last few years have less to do with Mancini’s managerial prowess and more to do with money. When the Abu Dhabi United Group made City the richest club in the world, anything and everything became possible.
Yet money is not everything in football. As the red side of Manchester can attest, consistency is a key component to any winning club. And one of the best ways to achieve consistency is to keep a manager in place for an extended period of time. In doing so, a club ensures that it is run by the owner and manager, rather than the players. This, of course, is the downfall of Chelsea, a club with billions of dollars but a nerve-wracking environment dominated by fear and insecurity.
Regardless of how the club fares in the FA Cup or whether it maintains 2nd place in the league, axing Roberto Mancini would be an incredibly daft move straight out of the Roman Abramovich School of Mercenary Arts.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday