A year to the day after guiding Manchester City to the most dramatic of Premier League titles, Roberto Mancini was relieved of his duties as manager of the Blues. Since then, a new man has been installed as the Italian’s replacement, signings have been forthcoming and pre-season has swung into action. Yet thanks to David J. Mooney’s latest book, The Man Who Restored Pride, City supporters can reminisce fondly about the man who took a talented but underperforming Mark Hughes squad, added a dash of winning mentality and a provocative management style and lead City to their first trophy in 35 years and, the following season, lifted the Premier League for the first time since 1968 after the most exhilarating culmination to a season ever.
The Man Who Restored Pride is a light, enjoyable review of Roberto Mancini’s time at the club and, indeed, reflects on previous managers and the build-up to the Italian taking the reigns at the Blues. For those supporters fond of nostalgic glances to bygone eras, there are touches upon Christian Negouai and how his City career was an apt metaphor for the club at the time, memories of what happened under the stewardship of Sven Goran Eriksson and suchlike. The book may be centred on Roberto Mancini but that it isn’t wholly focused on him allows for a gentle journey through erstwhile times.
Indeed, there are far more personal touches to the book than I expected and while I may not have planned on reading about Mooney’s grandmother’s hip replacement or her views on driving after an extended absence from the road, these personal moments provide the book with a welcoming, cosy feel, as if the reader is being invited into Mooney’s mind as he travels through City’s recent history.
On the subject of Mancini, Mooney guides us through the early moments of the Italian’s reign, his need to add consistency to the squad and tighten up the defence, and we are taken through the different stages of Mancini’s time in charge, whether that be his laying of the foundations in the first half-season, his more expansive style in our title winning campaign or the frustrating struggles of the most recent season in which the Blues failed to sparkle more than a handful of times.
Interspersed with this run-through are some rather salient points on various matters which provoked plenty of column inches over the course of the past couple of years. Mooney explains intelligently about the right and wrongs of Mancini’s oft-criticised 3-4-1-2 system and why the formation itself isn’t the problem, but that City’s squad lacked the players capable of turning it into a success. He also offers insight into the manager’s substitutions and why introducing Nigel De Jong and pushing Yaya Touré further forward towards the end of matches in our title-winning year was not a one-off masterstroke by Mancini, rather a frequent tactic which the media only cottoned on to late in the campaign. He lends constant reason to what seemed, at times, puzzling moves by Mancini, displaying a nose for the game and the light-hearted approach to confidently guide the reader.
Throw in the fact that it’s an aesthetically lovely book, complete with tables, interesting side notes and colourful additions, and I’d have no hesitation in recommending The Man Who Restored Pride to fellow Blues. Whether you were in favour of Mancini staying or wanted him out, this book provides an easy-going look back through his time in charge and plenty more.