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.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:
[ Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]
[ Click here for the RSS feed ]
LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.