Jan Molby

European woe heaps pressure on Mancini

Jan Molby

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Roberto Mancini could find himself under serious pressure unless he finds a way to get Manchester City out of their Champions League group.

His poor European record came in for scrutiny before the 1-1 draw against Dortmund, and last night's performance will only increase the sense of unease.

City were overrun by Dortmund at the Etihad, and face an uphill challenge to finish in the top two.

They just don't look like a team with European savvy, whereas their opponents had a clear gameplan and executed it almost perfectly.

I know that individually, City have a wealth of Champions League experience, but collectively they have not grown into the competition the way Dortmund have.

Last season, Dortmund were really poor, finishing bottom of a group including Arsenal. But they have found their feet and produced a slick, confident performance last night.

Even so, they are not Real Madrid. City should not be dropping points to them at home, where their record is usually so good.

In attacking terms, they look like they have one man too many - as though Mancini is trying to cram players into the starting line-up with little regard for the overall shape.

Last night they lacked width, and Yaya Toure ended up getting pushed far too deep to do any real damage with his powerful runs.

It was a classic example of a more attacking formation not necessarily resulting in more goals. Sometimes the best way to score is by giving your side a solid platform to let the forwards perform. Just throwing bodies forwards is not the answer.

At the back, it was a horror show. Mancini obviously does not fancy Joleon Lescott, but as a pure defender he is one of the best in the business.

Dropping him for the 19-year-old Matija Nastasic was a mistake, as was his shift to a three-man defence shortly before Dortmund scored.

You can see the effect of all this uncertainty in the play of Vincent Kompany.

Last season he was the best centre-back in the country, but recently he hasn't been able to defend anything.

He hasn't lost his ability overnight - but his struggles go to show the importance of stability in helping footballers perform.

Mancini almost needs to go back to the drawing board and think about what made City successful in the first place.

For the first few months of last season, they were as good as any side I have seen. He needs to study their matches and try to rediscover some of that magic.

It is very early to start thinking about Mancini's future, but if City do not improve in the Champions League then he will have no choice but to retain the Premier League if he wants to safeguard his job.

Such has been the investment that the owners will demand progress, and even City may feel the financial pinch if they fail to reach the knock-out stages.

Financial fair play means even the wealthiest clubs need to maximise their revenue to help them balance the books, and if City miss out on the last 16 it could cost them upwards of £25m.

The only positive from last night was that they somehow emerged with a point. That gives them a fighting chance, although they will probably have to win in Germany to pip Dortmund.

But Mancini's most urgent task is to help his team rediscover their swagger.

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