The Italian Renaissance has started and the Manchester City machine continued to roll on after Roberto Mancini led his new club to a routine 2-0 win over Stoke City at Eastlands. The result allowed the ex-Inter Milan manager to make a winning start to his reign and also in front of the club’s home fans. However, many more questions were raised instead of answers after a turbulent few weeks at City where former boss Mark Hughes was dismissed despite a relatively good record, Mancini was brought in to replace the popular Welshman, Craig Bellamy was reported to row with the new manager and marquee signing Robinho continued to disappoint instead of shine on the pitch.
It was left to another one of Manchester City’s big money signings to get things off on a good start for Mancini. Carlos Tevez continued his free scoring ways since making the move across the Manchester divide from United, while City veteran Martin Petrov supplied another first half goal that gave the Sky Blues something to work on for the rest of the game. Shay Given was the other hero of the night as he made two brilliant saves from Stoke’s Tuncay and Beattie to settle Mancini’s nerves with pressure already rising just days into the job.
The big question mark now would be whether Roberto Mancini can come in to do a much better job than Mark Hughes, who had not done too badly himself. Hughes had publicly stated the objectives given to him by the club in qualifying for the Champions League and by all accounts, had been on track to fulfill the expectations based on points total. But a succession of too many draws appeared to have resulted in the axe falling on Hughes’ head and Bellamy was certainly not best pleased with the developments at City.
The appointment of Mancini has been a curious one with the Italian showing little success in Europe despite leading Inter Milan to three consecutive Serie A titles, which were all somewhat devalued due to little competition from their traditional rivals in AC Milan and Juventus after the pair were seriously penalised for their part in the infamous bribery scandal in Italian football. Despite spending less than a week in his new position, Mancini has already had to fend off speculation that he might not be around at the club in the summer, especially if he fails to guide City to a better showing and position than what Hughes appeared to be doing already. There is also the first problem of getting the best out of Robinho who was brought in amidst much fanfare but has failed to live up to his big price tag.
Robinho continued to cut a disconsolate and frustrated figure against Stoke as the Brazilian could not stamp his authority nor mark on the team. Reported to be greatly disenchanted with life in England, there are rumours that Robinho has been lobbying for a move back to Brazil as he intends to rebuild his career in time for the World Cup finals in South Africa. For now, Mancini has to try to coax the best out of the Brazilian but the Italian has already shown signs that his patience might have run out in the first game. Bellamy was brought on to replace the Brazilian striker in the 70th minute and that would hardly have been a vote of confidence by the coach.