Premier League - Paper Round: Mancini to join Ferguson in leaving Manchester

Monday's back pages all share one common theme: both Manchester clubs will have new managers within the space of a few weeks.


"It's goodbye from me... and it's goodbye from him" is the back page lead in The Guardian, with outgoing Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson in tears, and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini looking anguished.

The Daily Mirror has a similar back page splash beneath the headline "Goodbye to Manchester", while The Times's headline is "Ferguson's tears, Mancini's fears".

Every single paper reports that Mancini will be fired this week, with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini being lined up to replace him.

Despite the ubiquity of the story The Sun still tries to claim it as an exclusive - though their claim to have Mancini's reaction to being "knifed in the back" is at least unique.

"It is the sly way it has been done which has left him feeling bitter," the paper claims, saying that Mancini was given the news on Sunday afternoon, and that it came as a huge shock following a cordial dinner with club chiefs the night before the FA Cup final.

"It was not until mid-afternoon yesterday Mancini found out his fate second hand," the paper reports.

"And even then nobody from the club had contacted him face to face to either confirm or deny speculation. Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain have secretly been negotiating with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini behind Mancini’s back for weeks.

"Meanwhile, Mancini had been dealing with the pair over transfer targets for next season and believed he had their full support. He was also convinced Al Mubarak was fully behind him.

"A source close to Mancini said: 'All the dealings Roberto has had with Al Mubarak and Begiristain were positive. He believed unless they were playing the most divisive game then he was their manager for the long term. There is a real feeling he has been knifed in the back.'"

The Times reports that, "Mancini could be dismissed as early as today with no guarantee that he will still be in charge for City’s Barclays Premier League match away to Reading tomorrow night."

The Mirror, meanwhile, claims Mancini will get a year's wages as a pay-off, and reports that successor-in-waiting Pellegrini will meet City bosses on Thursday to negotiate the last few elements of the deal.

It is worth pointing out that Pellegrini has this morning denied that there is any agreement with City - but last time all the papers were this unanimous on this big a story, they were proven right within hours. That was just last week when news of Alex Ferguson's impending retirement broke the night before the club confirmed the news.

As to why Mancini is going? The Mirror claims that there is literally nobody left who wants him to stay: "City chiefs have concluded Mancini does not have what it takes to advance the club in Europe and that a change of manager is needed if they are to make a serious assault on the Champions League. The players are also unhappy at his man-management and the 48-year old will be given his marching orders once a severance package can be agreed."

Pellegrini will be a snap for City considering his £2m release clause, the Mirror adds, and the Premier League runners-up, "will move for the Chilean with the minimum of fuss and ensure he is in position for the club’s pre-season tour of South Africa and the Far East."

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