In a recent press conference, Arsene Wenger, Manager at Arsenal, stated that he would remain at the club as long as he was successful. Nobody, it seems, wanted to mention that he has not won anything for nigh on eight years. Perhaps, in the Premiership, success is relative? No such benign views are held at clubs like Chelsea or Manchester City, where the smiling billionaire owners plough in their hundreds of millions without seemingly batting an eyelid. As always, the truth is stranger than the fiction, as we have seen with the pantomime at Chelsea, where a meddling owner, who thinks that he is a football expert, hires and fires managers with about as much aplomb as Alan Sugar.
However, not all is smiles at the Etihad, where the manager who has produced an FA Cup and League title in two years and another FA Cup final appearance this year, is evidently under scrutiny! Roberto Mancini is an honourable man and tries his best to tell it how it is; that contrasts with the owners and club hierarchy who seem to want to take advantage of his nature by undermining his authority. The latest slap in the face came when it emerged that director of football Txiki Begiristain met Manuel Pellegrini`s representative for lunch in Madrid; Pellegrini being the Malaga Coach. The meeting was dressed up as merely a dinner engagement, but sources in Spain have blown that out of the water. That meeting was set up to make advances to Pellegrini about the Manchester City job, should they get rid of Mancini in the summer.
There has been an air of discontent around the Etihad this season and a lot of it has stemmed from Mancini`s distrust of the hierarchy at the club. It has also filtered down to the players, with cliques developing and the odd statement mainly by senior players like Tevez about wanting to be elsewhere. Manicini has been waiting for reassurances from chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, but these have not been forthcoming. Mancini also seemed to be unsettled when asked about these developments by mentioning that his job has been courted by Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, then Pellegrini, Carlo Ancelotti and Brendan Rodgers, in the media.
Whilst he is saying that he is planning for the next season, there are still barbs when he mentions the lack of signings last year. On that occasion, it was Brian Marwood who stood in his way, but now he appears to have the whole of the club hierarchy frustrating his transfer moves. With all that going on and misgivings remaining about the way relationships have deteriorated with some senior players, he faces an anxious wait to discover whether his wishes will be met, or even whether he will be at the club!