Rafa Benitez was only ever to be a short term option on Chelsea’s managerial merry go round, but could end up out of a job even sooner than the summer if results don’t improve, whilst Roberto Mancini has steered his side out of contention in every tournament except the FA Cup so far this season.
With this in mind, how did each of the under pressure managers fare in today’s match?
Roberto Mancini will clearly be the happier man having seen his side win 2-0, but will know that it could have been different if Joe Hart had not saved Frank Lampard’s penalty in the 52nd minute. But Manchester City dominated the match, and any result other than a home win would have been an injustice.
Mancini opted to field James Milner, Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia from the start, with Sergio Aguero playing as a lone striker. No doubt the City manager was worried by Chelsea’s battalion of attacking midfielders, and the extra security given by playing all three of the above along with Yaya Toure proved effective in stifling Juan Mata in particular.
In terms of his substitutions, the introduction of Tevez for Rodwell allowed City to press on in the second half, and the Argentine directly contributed with a scorcher to settle the match. All in all it was a good day for Mancini, who got the balance right in his side at first, and then successfully changed it to help his team push on to grab the victory.
To be fair to Rafa Benitez, he didn’t do an awful lot wrong either. The Spaniard opted to put MIkel in the centre of the park alongside Lampard, with Ramires joining Mata and Hazard behind Ba in the attack. Like Mancini, this was a conservative choice made with City’s attacking prowess in mind.
However unlike City, Chelsea couldn’t find a way to build on this solid base to attack the opposition, and other than the penalty incident they rarely carried a threat. Sometimes derided for a lack of action during matches Benitez did try and remedy this by bringing on Moses, Oscar and then Torres, but Chelsea never looked like getting back into the match.
On the day, both managers had a similar game plan and it was always going to be likely that the team who scored first would win out. Mancini is the man whose team triumphed and should find the pressure on his position eased, whilst Benitez will face the wrath of the Chelsea fans once again perhaps unfairly, as had Lampard scored his penalty, Chelsea might have been able to snatch three points.
image: © andybrannan