Having seen Manchester City slip to 12 points behind Manchester United at the weekend, and already knocked out of European football, the club’s owners might well decide that now is as good a time as any to dismiss Roberto Mancini.
Whilst the Italian has achieved some great things at the Etihad, including winning the FA Cup and the Premier League, he has not always been convincing as a top class manager, and his sometimes overly emotional style has led to plenty of criticism. Simply put, there is a highly prevalent suspicion that if Manchester City had a different manager, say a Ferguson or a Wenger, they would be doing far better with the squad they have.
Whilst they are unlikely to get a truly world class manager if they dismiss Mancini now, there is one man who reportedly has the backing of the players should they look at installing a caretaker for the rest of the season.
Patrick Vieira is currently City’s development executive, but is a respected figure throughout the club, and there is an assumption that he will one day move into a coaching role somewhere.
Manchester City might give him that chance this year. As it would take something for City to overhaul Manchester United, and something almost equally unlikely for them to drop out of the Champions League places, Vieira could be given a chance to impress with relatively little risk to the club. The Frenchman would also be an intriguing choice given his history of conflict with Manchester United, and his appointment could add some venom to a title race that has largely become a foregone conclusion.
Appointing Vieira as caretaker manager would also ward off any interest from club’s looking to poach the 36 year old for their backroom staff, with Arsenal rumoured to be interested in giving him a role at the Emirates.
Vieira is highly rated by plenty of clubs as someone with the potential to become an excellent manager, and City might be ready to give him the chance to impress before the end of the season.