Posts Tagged ‘Roberto Mancini’


Opinion: How a move back to Arsenal could revive Samir Nasri’s career

By Stefano on February 28th, 2013

Ok Gunners fans, stop sniggering. Over the last few days there have been rumours about the next move of one time Arsenal hero Samir Nasri.

After a season in which he has been very poor and only scored twice it seems that Man City have decided that he is surplus to requirements at The Etihad. The player, that they signed from Arsenal for £25 million, is now being linked with a move to French League two side Monaco.

One thing is for sure City are going to have take a serious hit on the player, perhaps selling him for around the £10 milion mark. Nasri’s big money pay days will be at end (well relatively anyhow) as he is unlikely to earn £175k a week anywhere else.

It does beg the question though might a return to Arsenal be a possibility. Well I know the player has burned a lot of bridges with the fans, but does the 25 year old still have the respect of the manager and the team? Quite possibly. Wenger clearly rates Nasri as he was very sorry to let him go. Meanwhile Nasri seems to harbour some affection for the club, even though he has been a little bit disrespectful in tweets. He went to the game against West Ham recently running the gauntlet of irate Gunners fans.

So, and it is a big if, if they management team fancy a reunion what would they be getting? Is he the player he was three seasons ago?

There’s an intriguing article here on the always excellent Squwaka blog which outlines his problems. It suggests that the Frenchman might be being playing out of position at City which has seriously dented his confidence.

He has always dreamt of playing in the hole for a top European club, this hasn’t been the case at Manchester City where he finds himself on the wing in a two-sided role. He is there to create from out wide by cutting in but also to make it difficult for other teams to penetrate through the middle by tucking in when they have the ball. His efforts with the ball have been good, a pass completion rate of 91% is excellent.

However only 54% of these are forward passes, indicating a lack of incisive play. Nasri has created 32 chances this season although mostly from set-pieces where he has an array of enormous men to aim at hence his tally of only 3 assists.

With Arshavin out the door, Gervinho wayward at best and Oxlade Chamberlain not quite capturing his early form Arsenal could clearly use a player who can play behind the striker, but also wide if necessary. I guess he wouldn’t start every game (but at least he would give Santi a break), but I am sure Wenger would find much more use for his undoubted talents than Roberto Mancini.

The Arsenal manager clearly knows how to get the best out of the Frenchman – I wonder if he would like another opportunity. Talented players with this amount of Premiership experience don’t come along at cut-down prices too often.

Wenger was sanguine about the motives for Nasri’s move when it happened and Nasri has recently been praising Wenger.

So Arsenal fans would you take Sami back at a cut-down price and on sensible wages?


The other side of the Balotelli bust up – the problem it presents Roberto Mancini

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Mario Balotelli has a habit of doing the most absurd things at precisely the most brilliant time. If he’d planned to get into a training ground scrap with his own manager, picking this week was a wonderful way to provide Roberto Mancini with the possibility to react instantly, with the transfer window offering the possibility for a quick-fire sale.

But that’s not the only fantastic thing about Balotelli’s timing. The other concerns matters on the pitch: Sergio Aguero, who has established himself as Manchester City’s most valuable centre-forward, is out for a fortnight with a hamstring injury. Samir Nasri, meanwhile, is suspended for the next two matches, and although Balotelli is generally considered a striker, he’s started as a wide player more frequently than a forward this season. City’s fixture this weekend is a comfortable-looking home FA Cup tie against Watford, allowing Mancini to rest his regulars after gruelling Christmas period, and give a run-out to some reserves. Balotelli, who hasn’t played a minute since the 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on December 9, currently qualifies as a back-up.

For all Balotelli’s off-pitch dramas and his on-pitch flashes of genius, it’s never been immediately obvious what he offers to City on a regular basis, at least on a tactical level. His attributes are blatant: tremendous pace in behind, an ability to run with the ball, impressive strength and, at times, wonderfully cool finishing ability. Yet how that translates into a well-rounded player perfect for a particular place in City’s side is unclear. Playing as an ‘on the shoulder’ striker probably suits him best, and his key contributions have generally come from that position: his opener in the 6-1 against Manchester United, for example, the ‘Why always me?’ moment.

Yet his chances of playing that role have been, in a slightly convoluted fashion, compromised by Carlos Tevez’s return. Although Tevez has generally been fielded as the deeper of Mancini’s two centre-forwards, it has pushed Sergio Aguero forward. Aguero has played the two separate forward roles a roughly equal number of times since his arrival in English football, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that he’s more effective high up the pitch.

There’s more to his game than simply goalscoring, but his incredible acceleration and ability to create space for a shot when surrounded by opponents makes him one of the most dangerous finishers in the league.

On paper, Balotelli might be more suited to a wide position. David Silva starts in one of the wide roles and inevitably drifts inside into the centre, and Nasri’s tendency to do something similar has been problematic on occasion, making City’s play too congested and allowing the opposition to defend narrow.

Balotelli offers directness and a goalscoring threat from wide, but in addition to his lack of defensive work, he simply never appears determined or motivated when fielded there. He’s a powerful runner with the ball, but his ability to beat a man is less assured.

It’s unlikely yesterday’s incident will have a serious impact upon Mancini’s desire to keep him at the club: this is a manager who once told a press conference that he’d said to Balotelli: “If you played with me 10 years ago, I give to you every day maybe one punch in your head!”

Mancini will continue to give him opportunities through rotation. Aguero’s injury only makes that concept seem more appealing. But it’s difficult to see how, why or when Balotelli will become a key part of City’s starting XI, and therefore it will become increasingly difficult for Mancini to justify retaining such an undisciplined player, regardless of his talent.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.


Mancini tells BBC that Robin Van Persie could cost City the title

By Stefano on January 1st, 2013

A few weeks ago we ran a story about how had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same they would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.

Now someone else is declaring that the Dutchman is the difference between the sides competing for the title.

Roberto Mancini told the BBC “Robin van Persie is a very important player for United. He has changed their situation. He is the difference between us.”

Mancini went on to add that he got very close to signing the striker. “We were very close. We were sure he was for us but this did not happen and now we can do nothing. We were very close three or four months before he joined United.”

Here’s the theory on Van Persie’s influence on United as initially outlined by the Mail’s Martin Samuels.

United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.

Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).


Why Manchester City need the Europa League like a hole in the head

By Stefano on December 4th, 2012

So Champions League Group D, aka The group of Death, has turned out to be a bit of a mare for City. With no chance of qualification Mancini’s men will clearly be glad to see the back of it tonight too as they head off to Germany to face group leaders Borussia Dortmund.

Even if it was a game that City needed to win, it would still be a very tough call. Dortmund have been hugely impressive in the CL this year including drawing 1-1 with the Blues at the Etihad Stadium in October.

Bizarrely though City could still continue their European adventure this year as they have an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League. With Dortmund and Real Madrid having already qualified from the group, City need to beat the German champions and hope third-placed Ajax fail to win at the home of the Spanish title-holders.

Roberto Mancini is certainly playing lip service to the possibility of winning. He said: “We will try, but we need to win in Dortmund and it will not be easy because Dortmund are in a good condition.”There is the Premier League, and the Europa League if we can go in it, and also the FA Cup. The season is long and it is important.”

There is also the chance of a good win sparking off some self-belief in the team, something that seems to be sorely missing this season in spite of the Blue’s impressive home record.

And true to his word Mancini has sent a decent squad over to Germany, unlike Arsene Wenger whose Arsenal squad who play Olympiakos in a fairly meaningless game tonight, features a group of players several of whom are not even regular in the Gunners’ reserve team.

If Mancini has any sense though he will try and play for a face-saving draw or 1-0 defeat. City need the Europa League like a hole in the head. The Premiership is quite possibly still their’s to lose. Their only real rival at the moment are the quieter neighbours and their form has been inconsistent too. Sure the Europa League is still a trophy and it would continue to give City that European experience they so sorely lack. But at the moment it would be a distraction that Mancini really doesn’t need.

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