So given this bottomless trough of wonga, and the fact that his team were very much the better side at Old Trafford, why are his team so desperately adrift?Well Mancini was getting his excuses in early on Monday.
The main one is that he didn’t manage to buy any good players in the summer. He says it like it wasn’t down to him… as if the players he missed had never quite had the opportunity to be entranced by the Italian’s oozing charm.Clearly the likes of Rodwell and Sinclair were enchanted by him and the club. Or maybe they’d just had enough of all those prying eyes watching them work every week and fancied a year of utter obscurity. There was a time, you know, when Jack Rodwell looked like he might be a really good footballer. But you can rely on the moneybagses of the Premier League to relegate British potential to a watching brief.
There were other pleas from Mancini but none of them wash. The weediest was that teams are scared when they play at OT, which is pretty much the managerial equivalent of 'the dog ate my homework'. He is in charge of a squad which should win the Premier League from here to eternity. He certainly shouldn’t be overseeing Champs League failure every year. He’s fortunate he’s not working from Abramovich. Or Venkys.
United on the other hand may well be wondering how they get things so easy this year. The noisy neighbours finally delivered their first born league title last season and, as with many a new parent, have been distinctly quiet ever since. Ferguson’s champions have Van Persie, yes (hardly a masterstroke really, without old Longface Arsenal would have disappeared up the A1 last year). But not much else has changed.
United are in transition. The midfield is a creative wasteland. Carrick’s had his best season ever but he’s no Pirlo. When Modric trotted on to the park for Real and tucked home that equaliser you couldn’t help thinking that United had missed a trick there. Kagawa’s a delight – and let’s not pretend, he’s good for the Glazers’ Far East income - but he’s a bit of a butterfly amongst all the pounding hooves in the Premier League midfield.Given the stifled orgasm suffered by United last season, you can’t deny Fergie’s enduring brilliance this year. But United’s success this season is a reflection of other’s failings as much as their own ability.
Down in the depths, Harry Redknapp’s face was a picture of grief. It normally is but this weekend he had good cause. It’s not a good year to wear blue and white hoops – as opposed to all those other years, right. QPR are done for. Reading are out. There remains one place and a hell of a bunfight for it.Me, I hope Wigan and Villa escape if only because they’ve shown more faith in their managers than the rest of them. I appreciate that in the case of Villa that’s a new concept. But the rest of them – chairmen moving chairs on their respective Titanics – well you can but hope it doesn’t work out.
Of course there is one club slowly descending who I’d rather didn’t join Boro in the Chumpionship. Hump it Lump it Thump it Bump it. Stoke City. Here’s a team who make Sam Allardyce sound like a fey 18th century French poet.No one wants to watch Stoke. Unless it’s peripherally, like you do when you drive past a car accident. But there’s always been this patronising pat on the back for the Potters and the pragmatist Pulis. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.
Every now and then, pundits are given licence to purr as Stoke prove they can ‘get it down and play’. This is usually when they’re 2-0 up and Matthew Etherington gets the ball. The rest of the time we’re left to grimace at the pounding plodding clogs of Glen Whelan, Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross. And the rest.There’s nowt wrong with playing to your strengths of course. Delap’s absence, whatever you doughty Potters say, has robbed Stoke of 50% of their attacking options. Ryan Shotton can’t throw it so far. The Potters should get another six or so points and get out of it. And I really don’t want ‘em down the Riverside despite the fact that we all have a bit of fondness for the Panzer Huth.
Of course all this Premier League pales into insignificance when we think of the great woman we lost this week. She saved the country, Cameron said. Saved? In a Rob Green v USA way I presume.Lots of folk round our way were delighted to buy their council house. And sell it. A third of one-time council property is owned by private landlords today. She misunderstood the concept of social housing but not the concept of greed.
I’ll be honest. I fucking hated her. The union-bashing, privateering, Mandela-cuffing, patronising big-haired piece of shit. But her death has come too late. The damage has been done. There’s Dave and George, twin Thatcherite sons crying ‘bitty’ as they suckle on her full-fat me-first milk.So I haven’t been partying. They’ve no respect for society’s etiquette. But then there’s no such thing as society so what did the great blonde thug expect?
Up the Boro! What's left of it.