After leading the league for so much of the season, City has won just one of its last four league games. It now trails crosstown rival Manchester United by five points with seven games to play. City's title challenge hangs in the balance and so does the job of manager Roberto Mancini. A loss to Arsenal on Sunday will effectively hand United the 2011-12 championship.
Mancini is in his second full season at the helm, and the City has progressed significantly since his December 2009 arrival. City earned 71 points in the 2010-11 league campaign. It has equalled that amount with seven games to spare this season. City also lifted the FA Cup in 2011.
The case for Mancini is compelling, but there are several knocks against him. The club spent lavishly in building a squad capable of winning English soccer's ultimate prize. It appears City's 44-year wait to win the league will continue. City's owner, Sheikh Mansour, and its chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak have not publicly discussed what (if any) consequences Mancini will face if City fail to win the title. But the Guardian reports the Italian tactician addressed the subject on Friday during his pregame press conference.
"But I know football very well and I left Internazionale after seven trophies with a four-year contract to the end [being sacked in 2008]," Mancini said. "In football anything can happen in any moment. This championship can change in one week.
"The same regarding my future. When you choose this job you know that anything can happen in any moment. I don't have a problem with that because when you work hard for your job and improve your team, that's important."
How much blame should Mancini bear? Like any manager, he has dealt with injuries, suspension, loss of form and extended absences of key players. Unlike other managers, he been forced to maintain unity despite Mario Balotelli's on-field and off-field antics and the running Carlos Tevez saga. Many of his wounds are self-inflicted, and that cannot be lost on those decision makers closest to the situation.
However the campaign ends, Mancini has begun lobbying for another year in charge of the world's richest club. He wants to add a few more bodies to the squad.
"I'm sure that this club has arrived at the top," he said. "With two or three more players after this year, this club will start to win, and when it starts to win it will win two or three titles every year. Now it has arrived."
"I hope so [that he will continue as City boss] because of what's happened over the last two years."
What do you think? If City fails to win the league, should Mancini get the ax? Or should the club give him another shot?
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