Roberto Mancini feels there is little wrong with the state of English football.
With Chelsea and Manchester City falling in the group stage, and Arsenal and Manchester United failing to make it past the second round, for the first time in 16 years there is no Premier League representation in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
After the Gunners crashed out against Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening despite their impressive 2-0 win in Germany, coach Arsene Wenger claimed such an absence served as a ‘wake-up call’ for the elite clubs in England. However, speaking ahead of City’s trip to Everton on Saturday, Mancini could hardly disagree more.
“Last year Chelsea won it and this year English football has three teams in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League,” said the Italian coach. “For three or four years English teams have won, or been to the final. For one year, other teams have done it.
“When I read this thing about English football being down I thought it was stupid. It is impossible to win every year. This is football. If every year the same teams win, football would be like other things. Football is good for this. Every year things can change.”
Having been drawn in a group with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, Mancini will likely feel his City side were handed an uphill battle from the off. But failure to win a single game has piled the pressure on the former Internazionale coach, especially as his side now trail neighbours United by 12 points in the race for the title.
Earlier this week it was reported in The Mirror that Zenit St Petersburg were lining up a move for the 48-year-old, despite him signing a five-year deal with the Blues last year. But when asked of the link with the Russian club, Mancini replied: “It is cold here (Manchester) and I think St Petersburg is colder? It is absolutely not true.”
Everton have proved something of a bogey-side for City in recent years, with the reigning champions having won just one of their last seven matches against the Toffees. But if they are to stand any chance of retaining the crown they won in such dramatic circumstances last term, nothing less than three points will suffice on Saturday afternoon.