Roberto Mancini: Another Victim of Scapegoating in Soccer

In sports, a coach often receives the bulk of the blame for his team’s failures and is unjustly used as a scapegoat. No greater is this practice more prevalent than in European soccer–and almost always to a fault. The offseason coaching carousels involve teams ranging all across Europe, and the firing of Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini today gave us yet another example of these impulsive, and irrational, decisions by team owners.

Arriving at City in 2009, Mancini heroically guided the team to their first league title league in 44 years in the 11-12 season. The feat was met with enthusiasm from the entire soccer world, and contributed to a more competitive and intriguing Premier League. Yet after what appears will be a 2nd place finish in a post-title season, Mancini apparently has not met expectations–which is utterly nonsensical. Mancini had to cope with departures of key players, and a disruptive turmoil within his football club. Some may point at his consistent Champions League troubles, but with regard to all the internal problems he encountered, a 2nd place finish in the EPL standings is amazing.

And besides, it’s completely delusional to expect a title EVERY YEAR playing in the most cutthroat of soccer leagues. I understand the factor of money in all these negotiations, especially in the billion-dollar business of European soccer, but just observe the tenure of the famed, and now retired, coach of crosstown rival Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson. His relationship with the Manchester United organization serves as the best illustration of how patience breeds success. Ferguson certainly did NOT win the EPL title each of his 27 years at United. Instead of acting upon urges and an uncontrolled desire for success, Manchester United kept faith in their manager, and what resulted was insurmountable prosperity: 38 total titles, including 13 EPL titles and 2 CL ones.

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