Mancini axed but Pellegrini denies City takeover talk

EXACTLY one year on from guiding Manchester City to their first league title in 44 years, Roberto Mancini was sacked as manager last night, seemingly paving the way for Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini to takeover.

In stark contrast to the dramatic fashion with which they clinched the Premier League crown in the final minute on the final day of last season, City meekly surrendered their title to rivals Manchester United this term and lost the FA Cup final to Wigan on Saturday.

But it was a failure to progress from the Champions League group stages for a second consecutive season which is likely to have upset the owners most and a statement on City’s official club website confirmed Mancini’s departure after three-and-a-half years at the Etihad Stadium.

“It is with regret that Manchester City Football Club announces that Roberto Mancini has been relieved of his duties as manager,” the statement read.

“Despite everyone’s best efforts, the club has failed to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League. This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013-14 season and beyond.”

City assistant manager Brian Kidd will take charge of the team for tonight’s match at relegated Reading, their final game of the season at home to Norwich on Sunday and the club’s post-season tour to the United States, the statement also confirmed.

Pellegrini is the favourite to succeed Mancini, but distanced himself from a switch to the Premier League runners-up, saying: “I deny I am going to be the new manager of Manchester City. I have not signed an agreement with anyone, not with Manchester City, not with Roma, not with Napoli, not with Paris Saint-Germain, not with any of the clubs who have been mentioned.

“I had a date agreed with Malaga not to talk to anyone and I have no agreement with anyone. In the next few days I hope to clarify a bit what the future will be here in the club.”

Pellegrini has been linked with a move to the north-west since February and his agent was last month seen in talks with City director of football Txiki Begiristain.