With riches comes pressure for Mancini
British oddsmakers are already listing Roberto Mancini as
favorite to be the first manager fired in the Premier League this
season, highlighting the pressure on the man in charge at
Even the slightest of setbacks won’t be acceptable for City’s
wealthy Abu Dhabi owner – as Mark Hughes discovered to his cost
Even helping the club to a fifth-place finish in May – City’s
highest since 1992 – after less than five months in the job wasn’t
enough to silence Mancini’s critics.
But the 45-year-old Italian isn’t showing any strain, outwardly
”I don’t get pressure,” Mancini insists. ”Before I was a
manager, I was a player for 11 years and I never felt pressure
then. I managed Inter Milan for four years. No other manager has
been there for that long.”
He replaced Hughes, who enjoyed success in his first managerial
position with his native Wales and then at Blackburn but was fired
in December, midway through his second season with Manchester City,
when the club’s owners began to doubt his ability to guide the team
to a top-four finish.
While there’s plenty of focus on Mancini at big-spending City,
Alex Ferguson’s rule is virtually unchallenged at Manchester United
despite only collecting the League Cup last season and making just
minor adjustments to his aging squad in the offseason.
Ferguson’s 11 Premier League titles and two Champions League
triumphs make him almost untouchable at Old Trafford.
”I can keep going as long as my health keeps going,” Ferguson
said. ”I tried quitting a few years ago and it was a disaster.
Arsene Wenger also goes into the new season at Arsenal with no
serious threat to his job security despite failing to produce a
trophy since 2005. Top-four finishes in the league have proved
acceptable for the Gunners despite struggling in Europe
It’s the stability enjoyed at United and Arsenal that Chelsea
must forge after a succession of managers at Stamford Bridge. The
Blues went through three managers in the two years before settling
on Carlo Ancelotti last June.
And with Ancelotti, Chelsea has a manager who can create such
stable foundations at the club.
Crucially, he’s living up to the expectations created under Jose
Mourinho, who won the Premier League in 2005 and ’06, after winning
the league title in his debut campaign.
What Ancelotti shares with fellow Italian Mancini – albeit in
smaller measures – is the backing of a wealthy owner in Roman
Operating in more frugal conditions is Roy Hodgson, who was
persuaded to defect to Liverpool from Fulham after Rafa Benitez’s
troubled relationship with the Anfield hierarchy proved beyond
repair in June.
Benitez was expected to deliver the Premier League title in May.
Now the Reds are just desperate for Hodgson to guide them back into
the top four – and with it the Champions League competition in
While Liverpool remains English football’s most successful team
historically, it hasn’t added to the 18th title won in 1990 and
slumped to seventh last season.
Hodgson has none of the riches available to Mancini or
What the appointment of Hodgson in July did do, however, was to
provide a boost for English managers at a time when Premier League
clubs were looking abroad for coaches.
Having previously taken charge of three national teams and
managed clubs in six countries, the much-traveled Hodgson finally
secured a top job at home he has craved after masterminding
Fulham’s remarkable run to the Europa League final in May.
Hodgson’s main rival among the other English managers is likely
to be Harry Redknapp, who is one year his senior and also at the
pinnacle of his career having helped Tottenham into the Premier
League’s top four.
Finishing among the Champions League places is the target for
Martin O’Neill, who has transformed the fortunes of Aston Villa and
led the Birmingham club to three successive top six finishes.
For Blackpool, manager Ian Holloway’s task will just be ensuring
the club survives its first season in the topflight since 1971.
Even if the newcomers don’t provide memorable performances on the
pitch, Holloway is likely to be the most entertaining character off
the field with his array of one-liners and quips.
At least he sounds like he’s willing to take on all comers.
As he joked during his time as Queens Park Rangers manager:
”Most of our fans get behind us and are fantastic, but those who
don’t should shut … up or they can come round my house and I will