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In four matches they had scored one goal and that was from a set piece. A win at Aston Villa, courtesy of Lescott, was again secured via a set-piece. Next up on their travels was a trip to Arsenal, Balotelli got sent off again in a game that City failed to register a single shot on target in, losing to a late Mikel Arteta strike. In almost four months, in eight away matches, that featured some of the poorest opponents in the league, City had scored three goals.

The same amount as they had scored in injury time at Old Trafford. Even more alarming was the nature of the goals, from set-pieces and a slice of luck that should have gone down as an own goal. Tactically, Mancini had no answers. Milner and Kolarov would give the occasional cameos to add much-needed width but it was in the centre of the pitch where the manager struggled to find the chemistry.

With Toure at the African Cup of Nations, he attempted to bring more creativity to his team by again playing one holder Barry at Wigan and Aston Villa but when the Ivorian returned at Swansea both Barry and De Jong were back in again alongside him. Mancini had ran out of answers. It was a dramatic fall from grace from their early season dominance and one that anyone in charge of running the club should have been very worried about.

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His team were eight points back with six to play, United having out gained them 50pts to 37 in the games 13 to 32 of the season. Six wins from their final six, including key away games against very poor sides in Norwich and Wolves, galvanized them and restored belief and when they defeated Man Utd at home in late April the title challenge was in their hands again, and of course secured in the most incredible circumstances by Aguero again in the final minute of the season.

The Argentine forward allegedly refused to warm up during their Champions League loss in Munich and afterwards Mancini said he would never play for the club again.

It seemed like a remarkable statement, yet once he had calmed down and reflected on it, he repeated it time and time again and even before a game against Newcastle two months later went out of his way to tell the press his feelings remained the same. Tevez, meanwhile, was destroyed in the media although it was never proven whether or not he actually refused to come on as a sub as Mancini claimed or just refused to warmup as Tevez claimed.

One would admit either is a real lack of professionalism but only one would require such a dramatic response from the manager. Whatever the real truth was the story was a mess for City and their attempt to become a worldwide force as a global brand. When Tevez came back for the final nine matches of the season not even Mancini could spin it a way where he looked good.

By then he had bigger things to worry about in the form of Balotelli, whose off-the-field distractions, on-the-field temper tantrums and all too regular suspensions far outweighed the quality he brought to the team. Through it all Mancini stuck by him and would often treat questions about his young player with contempt, as if he was the only one in the country who knew what his star pupil could do.

Tactically, however, he never backed up his words of conviction. In a he often used Balotelli on the left, exposing his laziness without the ball and, more importantly, his lack of discipline. What it also did was prevent City from making much-needed changes in the summer. Mancini, Balotelli and Tevez all returned together to help City defend their crown in August. A change was needed. The season on the field was a relatively forgettable one. In the Premier League they never looked like winning the title, playing at a similar way as they did between games the season previous, struggling for width, creativity and, ultimately, goals.

His admission publicly that Robin Van Persie signing with Manchester United tipped the balance in their favour was strange considering the amount of talent he still had, talent he had bought. His choice to use a , particularly from the start at home to Real Madrid, when his team never succeeded in it was naive. As was some of his selections, such as picking Balotelli over Tevez versus Manchester United when he had scored just one goal in his first 12 games leading up to the December clash.

He has everything to play well, but we wanted more from him and he cannot play like he did today.


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Balotelli would play only two more minutes in the Premier League before departing for Italy, this time for good, but only after being caught having a fist fight with his manager during a training session. It was the first major move from Soriano and Begiristain as they began work on turning Manchester City into a world class football club on and off the field. To understand their beliefs and attitudes it is important to know the roles they played at Barcelona, specifically Begiristain, and, in this case, specifically in the recruitment of a new manager.

At the end of the season Barcelona, a year after winning the Champions League and La Liga titles, lost their domestic league on goal difference to Real Madrid. Retaining Rijkaard had proved a mistake. A mistake clearly the pair have learned from in the case of Mancini. After reading this it is clear why the former Spanish international had grown frustrated with Mancini at City.

More from Hunter on Begiristain:. Begiristain feared that Mourinho felt he was more than the club. He and those he stuck by created too many fires for a club incessant on getting to the top in all areas from analytics, scouting, developing, marketing and playing. The dismissal has, not surprisingly, been met with an outcry, led again by City fans who three and a half years earlier did the same with Hughes.

Mancini will always be the man who brought them their Premier League title but he was also a manager who won three of 12 Champions League games, two against a team who would be relegated in Spain and the other against a Bayern Munich side who had nothing to play for in that game. He was also a manager who, since winning at Old Trafford over 18 months ago, achieved pts in 65 games, scoring goals. Manchester United during that time achieved pts in 66 games, scoring goals. With a considerable gap to make up to their rivals, Mancini still leaves City an abundance of talent but without a clear identity.

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In one corner stands the old group of loyalists, who remember not too long ago the likes of David White and Ian Brightwell playing in midfield, and still think the team has come along way very quickly. And in the other are the new fans, who love the club because of its new found wealth and world class stars, these fans demand success and are shocked more than the others when they lose because they are not used to it.

Manchester City are a club going places. They will get there sooner rather than later now they are concentrating on the windscreen rather than the rearview mirror. In a world influenced more and more by social media, we are surrounded by people who have too much to say for themselves. There are those who say much to very few, those that say much to too few and there are those that say way too much to way too many and the drivel that comes out of their minds gets them exactly where they want to be; into the limelight.

Thankfully, there remains those who say very little who get still get the love and respect they deserve. For a quiet man, on and off the field, it was fitting and it would have been perfect for him to do what the unassuming footballers do when they retire and disappear from the field quietly, slipping into a career elsewhere in the game. The year-old Aston Villa midfielder, who announced with a heavy heart on Thursday that he has retired from football after winning his battle with Acute Leukaemia, will get the send-off he deserves. It has been a wonderful tribute and an opportunity for Villa fans to show their solidity in support of their captain, a player who was already in a special place in the heart of Villa fans where only the likes of Paul McGrath, Gordon Cowans and Peter Withe have entered.

Petrov was the perfect Villan. While the likes of Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor and John Carew brought the storm; the Bulgarian brought the calm all clubs need, on and off the field. Fans of sport on this side of the continent are used to their captains standing in front of microphones — and for some this was enough evidence that the leader of their team was the right man for the job.

Football is different. He was also the perfect skipper for the Holte Enders. Petrov, an intelligent midfielder who knew his strengths and limitations, was consistently better than most. Anyone who meets Petrov has a similar story to mine.

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In , when the club was in Toronto, players mixed with fans in their hotel. My brother, being an obsessive collector of sports memorabilia, latched on to the most personable player in the room and asked him if he could have his shirt that he would be wearing in their game against Toronto FC that night. Following the match, Stan remembered his promise and gave it to him. No Villa fan in the world had worn their new top yet, so when I put it on for their match in Columbus three days later, it was the talk of the stand.

No one had any idea of where it had come from or whose it was. Petrov was different. This means the Footy Show is now finished. I have to say I had reservations when we decided that Sportsworld needed to evolve into the Footy Show back in Rugby and Cricket were very close to my heart after all, but with the arrival of the Premier League to theScore, plus the birth of TFC, we decided that jumping on the soccer wave was the smartest thing we could do.

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Boy, am I glad we did. The Footy Show evolved, grew and blossomed into a brand, a term itself that was new to the media landscape.

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A TV component, a blog, a podcast, a bunch of footy idiots swashbuckling through twitter… but above all it was fun! And what about us? The Footy Show allowed you to meet Nobbers, Punners, Willy… and of course KJ, a likely bunch of lads who truthfully enjoy each other as much off camera and away from the mic as we do on it.


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Cheers for watching. The debut of the Footy Show, alongside the rights to the Premier League games gave me a chance, as a producer, to make sure we covered the sport the way it should be, with a real emphasis on entertainment and insight. For that I owe a tremendous amount to our wonderful viewers. From the television landscape changed, we changed as people, but the biggest change of all was the IQ of soccer viewers in Canada. They demanded smart, funny, insightful shows and I feel we delivered with those across all the platforms James mentioned. It was an absolute pleasure doing the show, the pregame and postgame shows around the Premier League and Serie A matches, the podcast and the blog.