By not preparing them well enough Mancini is restricting the ability for these world class players to become a world class team.
Before the game between Man City and Dortmund I wrote an article discussing what the game meant to both sides and managers. For the home side and their manager Roberto Mancini, the game was a must win. For Jurgen Klopp, a draw would have been a good result. After the game Mancini was relieved to get away with a draw and Klopp would have been fuming to not leave with all three points. Although the first half was an even affair with both sides and importantly keepers being called upon, it was the second half which signified the difference in class of not just the teams but importantly the managers.
After and even during the game Twitter was awash with adulation for Dortmund, this was somewhat surprising considering this is the Bundesliga champions, winners for the past two years. It is a side which has overcome last years Champions League finalists Bayern Munich five times in the past few seasons. This was not your average minnow coming to play one of the big boys, this was a world class side turning up in Europe and showing the world what it was capable of.
Now the reason perhaps people were surprised by the performance was that by Klopp’s own admissions Dortmund were poor last season in Europe; whether overwhelmed, inexperienced or tactically inept the side struggled and finished bottom of their group. And so Klopp was keen to make thisseason count much more.
He understood that Dortmund were too open defensively and were thus caught out too much last season yet his desire for attacking football would tend to leave the side open at the back. In the first half against City Dortmund were exposed on a couple of occasions and although Dortmund were creating many chances of their own, it appeared that the defence which had been quite porous of late was set to concede again.However, the teams went in at half time level at 0-0 with both sides thinking they should have been leading.
A second half tactical masterclass from Klopp
In the second half however Dortmund were simply brilliant. Klopp instructed his forwards to drop off to the halfway line, allow City's centre halves to have the ball and instructed Reus and Gotze to restrict balls into the full backs feet. He made sure that the midfield three of Blaszcykowski, Gundongan and Bender stopped passes into the creative players of Silva, Aguero and Nasri.
The plan worked perfectly, one which had been so successful against Bayern especially in the past. Passes became predictable from City and were easily cut out when they tried to play forward or long. It meant City had a lot of possession in their defensive third yet little where it really mattered.
This tactic limited City's chances and created more for Dortmund. This tactic of defending deep is as much an attacking tactic as well as defensive. This tactic enables them to be compact in order to break quickly on the counter attack, much in the same way the German national team play. The goal came from a smart interception from a short pass from Rodwell and Reus drove through and finished excellently. More goals could and should have come for Dortmund yet for the impressive Hart and wasteful Lewandowski.
Dortmund's level of play and intensity, along with their technical and tactical quality was sublime. They were focused and driven to and the credit must go to Klopp for the game plan he had put into place. It was almost a perfect evening of how to play in Europe. It was the exact balance of quality, work rate and tactics that is required to succeed. Dortmund will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they wish to progress further in the competition yet it was clear that Dortmund had learnt from last years poor campaign.
Dortmund's rise with no money, just great management
When Klopp arrived Dortmund were languishing in the bottom areas of the league, they were disillusioned, it was a once great club gone bad through poor financial dealings. Klopp was given no money and yet in a matter of years he took the club from 13th to 1st.
Unlike his opponents Man City he did it with no money at all, he had to rely on his ability to get the best out of players, a skill which is often forgotten about managers and coaches. Like Mourinho, Ferguson and Guardiola he took a group of players and made them into a world class winning side. Yet unlike Madrid, United and Barcelona he did it with absolutely no money at all.
It is a remarkable achievement which appears to have been ignored or unknown. He scouted the world for hungry talent with skill who were perhaps unknown or not favoured. Much like Billy Beane in Moneyball he scouted players that others weren’t looking at and he found gems like Kagawa, Lewandowski, Barrios, Blaszcykowski and Piszczek.
He took a player in Mats Hummels who was released by Bayern because he was too slow and made him into one of the world’s best defenders. He used the youth academy to great effect and saw in a player like Nuri Sahin star quality where others saw lack of speed and mobility.
Perhaps the most talented player to come out of Germany (and there are many in the past few years) is Mario Gotze. In the game against City he showcased his rising talent to the world and made many who had not seen him sit up in wonder and awe. He is the same age as Neymar and if not for a season long injury last season his rise to one of Europe’s brightest may have happened earlier. Yet for those who follow Dortmund, many have known for years the talent Gotze possesses.
This past summer Klopp faced losing more than just Kagawa, reports were that Lewandowksi, Hummels and Gotze were all sought after. Yet they decided to stay because of the environment created by Klopp.
What he has achieved may be viewed as nothing short of a miracle in terms of finances. The might of Bayern and Schalke outweigh Dortmund many times over, yet Dortmund are continuing to succeed and win trophies. It is all down to Klopp and his abilities as a manager.
The prince's versus the paupers
The game between City and Dortmund was a case of rich versus poor. On paper the game should not have been close. And yet, the "paupers" outplayed, outworked and were technically and tactically better than rich princes. This comes down to the quality of the respective managers.
Klopp wants players whose concern is for the team, whose decisions are for the good of the team not the individual. Bad attitudes are not accepted at Dortmund. Look at this side and you see desire, commitment and team unity. Jurgen Klopp would not have players like Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli in his side. Quite simply they are not team players and lack discipline both on and off the pitch.
Klopp has had to build his side on little money yet he has built it on strong principles, he has developed and nurtured players who many had written off and he has made them into £20m+ players. Not every manager has this ability to spot and nurture talent and this is what makes Klopp so special.
On Twitter I had an argument regarding Klopp and Mancini; I argued that Mancini could not have achieved what Klopp had done at Dortmund. Yet I believed that Klopp would have done a much better job at Man City. Mancini has spent over £200m on players since he arrived at City and yet with that amount of quality should City not be better?
City have a problem. It is their manager
There are serious issues and concerns with this City side and importantly Mancini and his handling of the side. He even alluded to the situation after the game last night, saying there were problems which needed sorting.
Mancini had spoken before the game of "learning quickly" about the Champions League. It is not the players who need to learn, but Mancini himself.
Tonight’s game showed me, like the game against Madrid two weeks ago and those last season, that when Mancini faces sides and managers who are as good or better than him then he really does not know what to do. The title win last year was simply his side being head and shoulders above all the rest, and he still almost lost it.
The truth is and I said this in the summer, that Mancini lacks the tactical skills to be a top level manager, European class manager. When I compare City and Dortmund last night I see one side who knew exactly how they going to play, how they would defend and attack. It was an almost perfect display of preparation and tactical discipline from Dortmund.
Yet City appeared lost and confused about what they were set out to do. Although they look "nice" on the ball at times, they appear a side put out and told to "play". Yet at this level it requires more than that, it requires a plan, preparation and strict tactical discipline. it is no suprise why Mourinho and Guardiola have been so successful in recent years, they are masters of preparation and planning. It is simply not enough to have top players, they need guidance and leadership. Two things which I fear Mancini lacks.
Team building is the key to success
Mourinho, Guardiola and Klopp have shown an ability to bring a group of players together and make them a team, and not just that but make them believe they are the best in the world.
When Mancini talks of Madrid or United or Dortmund tonight, he always say they are better than his side. He is right. They are more organised, tactically better and thus, a better team.
By not preparing them well enough Mancini is restricting the ability for these world class players to become a world class team. Under Mancini this side is second rate compared to Europe’s best. He admitted after tonight that he knows what the problem is, yes Roberto, it is you.
Mancini alluded to the fact that in the game Dortmund wanted it more, they fought harder and his side did not match them. He said that quality is not enough and that is true. Yet why has Mancini not prepared his side accordingly? Why has Klopp managed to put together a winning team and Mancini cannot? Because simply Mancini lacks this skill and thus will not be successful in the tournament which really matters for City’s owners.
His decision to keep Balotelli and Tevez this summer was a mistake, one bad apple is bad enough yet two is toxic. You simply cannot build a Champions League winning side with players like this and performances in Europe show this. Whether on the pitch or off it, they are not good to have around.
Look at what Mourinho did in order to win the Champions League for Inter. He got rid of Zlatan, a bully in domestic football yet one that struggles in Europe. Why? Because in Europe EVERY player must play for team and not their self Zlatan has always played for himself and because of that he has not succeeded in the top tournament in club football.
Team building is the most important facet of a managers ability. Regardless of money the manager must bring in players who are capable of suiting the style of play and importantly, for those who want to succeed, capable of sacrificing themselves for the good of the team.
A fair assessment of Mancini's credentials
You may think I am being overly harsh on Mancini, yet Klopp has much less experience in Europe than Mancini and has shown more understanding and learning of what is required in the space of a year compared to Mancini’s experience with Inter and last season with City.
For me City have gone backwards this season. They appear less of a team, less organised and focused. Mancini’s tinkering is certainly hampering the side. His attitude off the pitch also is causing problems, he continues to moan and complain about his side and this is clearly affecting the side.
When I see what Klopp has achieved it makes me pleased and hopeful for the future of football. A manager who has shown that through strong leadership and principles, through nurturing and developing players and importantly building a united and committed team, that you can defeat these sides who have simply injected money to become successful.
Jurgen Klopp has shown that money is not everything and that sustainable success can happen if the right man with great man management, great tactical understanding and the ability to build a cohesive team is found.
Man City have high ambitions to succeed in Europe. They possess some of the world's best players yet they have a manager who cannot make them into a successful side when playing against some of the best in Europe.
I said before that Mancini was not good enough for European football, once again I have been vindicated. If City's owners are serious about doing well in Europe then they will have to seriously consider bringing in a manager who understands European football and who has the ability to build a strong team. Mancini is the problem, a better manager is the solution.