Man City claimed the win required to see them move three points clear, but manager Roberto Mancini continues to give the impression of a manager feeling some considerable pressure in the hunt for silverware.
Mancini’s demeanor during pre-match interviews of late has been downbeat, and he persists in bemoaning the lack of points collected in games against West Brom and Sunderland as if some sort of grave injustice had taken place.
Instead, both opponents had simply defended extremely well and, in Sunderland’s case, successfully gambled on sneaking a win at a stage in the game when City would have no time at all to bounce back.
“That’s football”, as Mancini himself conceded in reference to those games, albeit in the tone of a manager who still hasn’t quite recovered from the sheer cheek of West Brom and Sunderland in not allowing City the three points that they were entitled to.
The Italian would do well to remember Man City’s games against Villarreal, who were the better footballing side for much of the sides’ first Champions League meeting but lost to a Sergio Aguero winner with three seconds of injury time remaining, and Liverpool, who dominated during most of the league encounter at Anfield and would have won the game in injury time through Andy Carroll had it not been for a wonder save by Joe Hart.
That Villarreal left Manchester empty-handed, and Liverpool took a point instead of the three they deserved is also “just football”.
Mancini is also allowing refereeing decisions to cause more frustration than they should, and in the space of only two weeks has been at the centre of four separate moments of controversy following decisions by officials.
Against Liverpool two weeks ago, Martin Skrtel conceded a penalty within a minute of Gareth Barry being dismissed for City after two cynical fouls within minutes of each other.
Despite the award of a penalty – highly debatable and which itself could have been turned into a controversial moment, should Liverpool have made much more of it post-match – Skrtel remained on the pitch.
No doubt frustrated by having witnessed the dismissal of one of his own, a decision which he later voiced his disagreement with, Mancini’s response was to wave an imaginary card, urging the officials to issue a red card to the Liverpool defender.
He later apologised for making the much-criticised gesture, promising he wouldn’t do it again.
Such a promise, like many people’s resolutions, lasted a mere seven January days, and the imaginary card surfaced once again in a clash with Liverpool, this time in the Carling Cup.
Having seen his captain sent off for a two footed tackle only days earlier during their FA Cup defeat to Man United, Mancini was incensed that Glenn Johnson escaped sanction for exactly the same thing.
It obviously didn’t cross Mancini’s mind that he had argued strongly against Vincent Kompany’s sending off, claiming it shouldn’t have been a red card. Presumably referees had taken note and therefore didn’t believe that Glenn Johnson’s challenge warranted a red card, either.
Another factor in that incident was in Mancini’s gesture, only days after he’d accused Wayne Rooney of the same thing. The hypocrisy was not lost on Steve Gerrard, who made his feelings towards Mancini known after the game.
Unfortunately, even after the negative press in which Mancini has received, the card-waving gesture resurfaced yet again last night during the latter stages of their narrow victory at Wigan.
Manchester City are in pole position in the league and are still competing in two cup competitions.
For it to remain that way, with four months of the season still to go, Roberto Mancini needs to calm himself down and not take so much to heart because there’ll be more refereeing inconsistencies, and more decisions which seem to go against his team along the way.
But then, that’s just football.