Trouble brewing at Eastlands

by Dominic Pollard

On Friday, as Manchester City practised ahead of their match against Bolton, Mario Balotelli enhanced his ‘trouble-maker’ reputation by aggressively confronting his team-mate Jérôme Boateng. The player who José Mourinho once labelled as “unmanageable” continues to serve as an illustration how detrimental such characters can be within a football club.

Balotelli is not alone in his fractious temperament, however. Nor is yesterday’s ‘disagreement’ between two of the squad members in an isolated incident. Manchester City have thrust together stars from across Europe in a haphazard manner and, as such, it comes as no surprise that reports are saying that tensions within the side are rife.

Carlos Tevez has been remarkably open about his disillusionment with the game, noting the attitudes of footballers as his main reason for falling out of love with football. Moreover, the City captain’s reaction to being substituted yesterday highlights the growing unrest within the club. Emmanuel Adebayor, meanwhile, has been cited as another problematic character. The Togo striker has only succeeded to warm the bench so far this season and is seemingly unwilling to patiently wait for his opportunity to be back in the limelight.

To make matters worse, Manchester City have been airing some of these disputes publicly. There have now been mid-match, on-the-field arguments between James Milner and Yaya Touré as well as Adebayor and Kompany. Needless to say, such conditions are in no way conducive with winning football matches or, indeed, winning titles.

The club may have attempted to play down the latest fracas between their own players, claiming it is merely “a reflection of the competitive edge the players apply to training”, but this cannot detract from the club’s growing problems. Mercurial-at-best on the field and fragmented off it, City have been igniting in the wrong way of late.

Mancini’s man-management skills have been put to the test and he seems to be struggling. It is an unenviable task but is one that is part and parcel of managing any team with such a collection of stars. Unlike the approach of teams like Manchester United or Arsenal, City have plucked high calibre players with huge price tags and tried to build a team around them. Massive wages and even bigger egos stand as daunting obstacles on his and their road to success.

City sit fourth following their 1-0 home win over Bolton yesterday. Their performances, however, remain largely disappointing. They still seem to be a team void of an identity, unsure of how to play. Such has been the rapid and dramatic change that has taken place at Eastlands this is perhaps not surprising.

Nevertheless, while they continue to pick up points, the signs are all pointing to trouble behind the scenes. If only half of the rumours and reports are true, the apple cart would appear to be well and truly upset. Personally, I think that Mancini’s days are numbered. Replacing the manager is always the easiest solution for the board so it seems likely that the scarf-wearing Italian is only a string of bad results away from getting the proverbial boot.

Visit my regular blog over at Polly’s Pause for Sport, or follow me on twitter.

23 Responses

  1. CheLaros says:

    Ivorian Striker?

    1. Kevin Coleman Kevin Coleman says:

      Oops.

    2. Tevez32 says:

      “They still seem to be a team void of an identity, unsure of how to play”

      You’ve not seen much City then, I take it. Mancini has them playing his way and it’s working. Sitting in 4th, after playing all the so called ‘big’ clubs, we should be even higher in the table come the New Year.

      As for the unrest stuff, I think it’s a bit of wishful thinking on your part if you think we are going into meltdown – the newspapers failed to print the picture of Balotelli and Boateng hugging and smiling after their ‘bust up’ – go look on the Manchester Evening News City pages to see the 5 picture of the incident, then edit your piece for more balance.

      1. Kevin Coleman Kevin Coleman says:

        I saw the hug at the end, but I think Dominic is talking about the disruptions clashes like these cause at training, and the hotheadedness of Balotelli to square up to a team mate. He’s very temperamental, if he’s going to blow his cap like that in training then you don’t know what to expect next. You can’t be seeing tantrums like that on the pitch.

  2. I will accept that the piece is perhaps overly critical of City and thus it is unsurprising that fans will not agree with what I am saying. That being said, I stand by my main points.

    The squad, for me, does not seem to work. I don’t think the system they are playing is getting the best out of the players. More importantly, as Kevin says, the training ground bust up was merely another example of the unrest within the club. The arguments between players has been there for all to see. The simple point was that the attitude problems that seem to be present at City, as reported by a host of newspapers and websites, are simmering beneath the surface. This is not a situation that will help them win trophies.

    They are doing well to be sitting in fourth. They have been uninspiring in quite a few of their performances but I suppose there is promise to be taken from winning when not playing your best. It will be interesting to see how this new side fares in the second half of the season.

    Oh… and apologies for the Adebayor mistake – very stupid lapse on my behalf!

    1. Salford Blue says:

      Or maybe the training ground bust up was…………………………………………………………………………..just a training ground bust up???

      Possibly?

      Maybe?

      Perhaps?

      A mistimed tackle does not signify so called “imploding” of the Club.

      That is what annoys us City fans. Always accentuating commonplace everyday things as turmoil.

      1. Kevin Coleman Kevin Coleman says:

        Of course it was ‘just a training ground bust up’, but I don’t know what training grounds you’ve been hanging around that makes it a ‘commomplace every day thing’!

        The fact is, argy bargy on the training ground between a hot-headed player and his team mate and YOUR CAPTAIN going off at his manager after been taken off in the 89th minute isn’t paper talk or rumours, its fact and no matter what club you were looking at, be it Bolton, Liverpool, whoever, it’s not out of the ordinary to regard this as fractional relationships within the camp.

        This has nothing to do with jealously, and for me it’s childish to come to such a conclusion just because we’re talking about the big spenders here. Nobody is denying City’s deserved position in the top four right now, but it’s deluded to see players going at it, your captain having a tantrum on the field and declare it all rosy when it’s ‘probably’ happening at every other clhb around the country.

        1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

          Sorry Kev, but the Tevez thing was absolutely nothing.

          He should have had more than one goal and that, coupled with his fifth yellow of the season that will see him miss next week’s West Ham game (a fixture he loves), had him frustrated. If people had been actually watching the game and not just snippets from the anti-City media they would have seen Tevez laughing and joking with Vieira and Silva in the stands two minutes later.

          Tevez is the sort of guy that wants to play every minute of every game and that was it.

          The attempts to undermine Mancini and his role at the club are becoming laughable at this stage.

        2. Kevin Coleman Kevin Coleman says:

          To be fair Neil it’s hard to keep up with Tevez, and his changing status. One week he’s sick of football and retiring, the next he can’t get enough of it.

  3. Paul says:

    Sorry but this is utter tripe!

    The upheaval we have had in the last three years since the takeover has probably never been done on such a scale at any other club before.

    Before the takeover we were rubbish.A mid table side flitting between relegation and promotion and without the cash injection that is where we would have remained,like a lot of other clubs.

    The club and managers had a huge job on their hands to clear out the dead wood and convince top stars to join a club that had achieved nothing in 30 plus years.In short the club has been overhauled from top to bottom,a process that is ongoing today.

    For Mancini to have gelled all this together,got us 3 points clear in 4th place and only 3 points off the leaders while we are still undergoing great change shows just what we can be capable of when it all clicks.

    We have seen glimpses,Fulham away being the most notable.Yesterday against Bolton it was the biggest 1-0 battering i have ever seen.At times we were awesome and ripped them to shreds.Only bad luck,some poor finishing and an awful referee prevented a landslide.

    Most of the players whining are the players with attitude and who can’t cut the mustard and will be moved on anyway.

    Every club has training ground spats and in fighting.What annoys me is how on earth does a camereman happen to be present everytime it is City and who is constantly leaking such to the press?

    As a City fan of over 40 years i have sat open mouthed and at times in disgust at some of the bile being spat at my club from so called journalists and past it tv pundits.We have been blamed for the economic crash and the starving in the world[i kid you not].I am sure if world war 3 erupted it would have been City’s fault as well!

    When we had no money and were rubbish we were mocked,now we have money we are attacked from all sides and mocked anyway.Damned if you do,damned if you don’t.I know which i prefer and the pundits and so called experts can mock and snipe all they like.

    The bulk of us were here in the dark days of what used to be the old 3rd division and our loyalty and humour never wavered then and it won’t now.Snipe away,make up your stories but we WILL prosper and we WILL be succesful.And do you know what?If we aren’t we will still be here having a moan,a laugh and a sing song.34 years and we’re still here!

    1. TooBloo says:

      Well done Permalink. The media is infested with writers who are having great difficulty accepting that Manchester City has clawed a way back from the third tier of English football to become a prized asset of one of the richest people in the world. City will become a major force in world football and Mancini is already creating very firm foundations in this project. I went to my first City game in 1952 at the age of 6. I am honoured to be associated with a club that has a great history and an exciting future.

  4. The post was not suppose to be pure City bashing. It was a comment on the troubles that it would appear are lying behind the scenes. I noted that the level of upheaval is probably responsible. The number of people coming in and out of the clubs will always make things difficult. City are doing well in the table but I was primarily talking about the conflict between some of the players with attitude problems at the club. This is not bile being spat at City, it is simply an observation of mounting tensions.

    1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

      It might not have been intended as City bashing but it reads that way and you have to expect backlash from fans because of it.

  5. Jim says:

    So City keep spending UNLIKE Utd do they ?

    I’m sure Utd paid a lot of money for Ferdinand, Rooney, Berbatov, Vidic, and Hargreaves. I think they have also spent big money in the past on players too, such as Veron, Djemba Djemba, et al.

    I think maybe reporting facts and not trying to undermine the changes taking place at City might be a better direction to take to enhance your reputation as a journalist.

    If you want to write about rumours and speculation then try the rumour about Scholes kicking Rooney and leaving him injured after he put forward his reasons for leaving Utd !

    1. There is no rumour or speculation about the on-the-field incidents that have been occuring at City this season. Of course United has spent money, so have Arsenal, but my point is that was over a much longer period and not on the same scale as City. This does not ‘undermine’ the changes taking place.

      I never at any point attempted to claim this was piece comprised solely of facts. It is a feature article which is my opinion based on various pieces of evidence. I obviously did not expect for City fans to agree with what I was saying, people’s opinions differ, that must be accepted.

  6. Josh says:

    Surely the point here is that such fractitious relations within the club are not healthy. It’s not just the Boetang/Balotelli incident – things like that undoubtedly happen up and down the country in training sessions at every level. if anything, it’s probably condusive to creating an winning, competitive attitude within the club.

    However – the countless examples of City players pursuing their own personal agendas in the papers is an entirely different matter. With characters like Adebayor and Tevez constantly upsetting the apple cart what are people who are privy to no more information supposed to believe? Kolo Toure coming out and saying that people aren’t earning their wages speaks volumes about the politics within the club – shouldnt these things happen behind closed doors?

    The article seems perfectly valid in its assessment of what’s going on at Eastlands. You can’t run any sort of successful organisation with such vocalised disillusion. Im not a United fan,but you wouldn’t see such things happen at Old Trafford would you? Clearly this is something Mancini needs to iron out, in order to move the club forward. I mean, is Adebayor REALLY commited to pushing on with City?!

    Don’t let your love of the club blind your judgement.

    1. Clevblue says:

      You are believing what you read in the papers, you really should learn to take them with a pinch of salt. Look at the position of the club, reached within a relatively short space of time, if there was such a level of dissent, there wouldn’t be such free-flowing football as we are seeing lately (Fulham and Bolton) We have been starved of this kind of football for so long City fans are loving it, and the rest of you are hating it. It’s inevitable Mr Pollard, sorry and all that if we are rocking your boat, but find another target for your jealousy. Mancini will look after our fringe players, it’s what he knows best. Management.

      1. Josh says:

        Well, he could do with starting with his club captain. Tevez’s touchline hissy fit ddoesn’t bode so well.

  7. Salford Blue says:

    Do you not believe that the training ground spats goes on at Bolton then? The occasional mistimed tackle?

    Every so called blogger/journo/hack knows that in times of scarce news, they can always conjure up a gem about the “unrest” at the club.

    Everyone can say that we should be up there as we have quality players and have spent £300m, but not one decent writer has said what an amazing job Mancini has done to bring it all together in such a short space of time to put us where we are now.

    And amidst “unrest”, “troubles behind the scenes”, “the club on the verge of imploding”, yada, yada, yada.

    What was the song Arsenal fans used to sing under George Graham??? One nil to the Arsenal??? Any Arsenal fans moan when they won the League???

    As for Tevez, maybe you should login to the Official site tomorrow, when they present an in-depth personal interview with Carlos at his home and he cites his admiration for Mancini.

    As for Bolton yesterday, Coyle’s comments about them being dissapointed not to get a point was an absolute belter. The game could have been over after 20 minutes.

    Another nugget from the “We competed with the club who spent £300m” manual

  8. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

    Some fantastic responses from my fellow blues here, all spot on about yet another attempt to undermine City and Mancini.

    The Tevez incident was nothing, simply a guy frustrated at having to come off knowing the job wasn’t done and he would also miss out next week through suspension. I love seeing that bit of fire in our captain who has led by example on the pitch all season.

    No one gives a shit about training sessions at West Brom or Wolves, hence we never see photo galleries of Karl Henry’s wild training ground tackles (do they happen? who knows because there are no cameras there to find out).

    City are in the media spotlight and it’s something we have to accept. What I won’t accept though is people buying into the propoganda being spouted to create issues that aren’t there.

    Fourth spot, three points off the top. Come back to me when there is actually a crisis.

  9. Paul says:

    It is easy lazy journalism in my opinion.A hard tackle goes in in training,someone gets the hump,handbags,suddenly it is crisis time!

    It goes on at every club and so does whining by players who can’t get a game.It is just highlighted at City because there is an agenda for us to be set up to fail……..”All that money spent and they are still rubbish!”………….You know the one!

    We spent a lot of money in a short space of time for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly we were starting at a base place of almost a whole squad of inferior players who had to be replaced.Just over ten years ago we were in the old third division,drastic action was needed.

    Secondly the haste was because of old Platini and his mob attempting to stitch up the champions league against clubs doing what City did by the so called fair play rule where clubs only spend what they generate.A really fair one that when the top clubs are already the richest due to the continued champions league money and most have huge stadiums generating even more cash.But all that would be another post.

    What i would do if i was Mancini and Gary Cook is ban all photographic devices and journalists from the training ground with immediate effect.Secondly i would ensure it is written in the players contract they don’t talk to the press without the club’s permission and then only after what they are about to say is vetted.Hey even i have this in my work contract so surely the players should too,they are after all employee’s are they not?

    Thirdly i would get tougher on the idiots like woman beating dogger Collymore spouting slanderous bile,as he did against De Jong.The same applies to Ian Wright who is lucky he had a talent for football because with that pea brain and big mouth he would be lucky to get a job picking up litter!

    Old Fergie wouldn’t put up with it and i wish the club wouldn’t either.

    The outside world can keep sniping and whining it only makes us stronger,as it did in our dark days in the third tier.When we eventually achieve something it will only taste all the sweeter because of it.

    1. The training ground bust up was merely one in a line of pieces of evidence which pointed to unrest. So I, like many other people writing about it, have hardly jumped from that incident to the view it is ‘crisis time’. Indeed I don’t believe I even said it was crisis time, I was simply stating that there were signs of trouble and unrest.

      Nevertheless Paul, you make some good points. City did have to spend against the clock before the fair play rules. Moreover, if Mancini could address a few issues to do with how the club deals with the media then that would help the team’s cause as their problems, some of which certainly do occur at many other clubs across the country, would not be aired publicly.

  10. Paul says:

    It depends how you view the snippets Dominic.Training ground spats?Happen at every club.Players whining they can’t get in the team.Happen’s at every club.A captain wanting to stay on when down to 10 men and fight for the cause?Admirable but yes he should have gone more quietly but he is a latin with the temperement to match.

    A selection of players thrown together in a haphazard manner?Hardly.The players Mancini bought needed to be bought and were better than the ones they replaced.There are signs an understanding is coming together and once it does we will win even more.

    I agree a closing of ranks and a curb on players mouthing off will nilly needs to be adopted but we should stay focused and shut the critics up on the pitch.

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