El Centrocampista

Make or break for Mancini as Spanish challenge begins

With reputations and expectations to live up to, it can’t be easy being the son of a famous and successful footballer. Spare a thought then for Andrea Mancini a young player whose developing career has constantly been plagued by the unrealistic comparisons to his father and current Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini.

While many may, possibly rightly, argue that perhaps he wouldn’t have got the chance had his father not been in charge at Internazionale or at the current Premier League champions, it was always going to be hard for Andrea to distance himself from his father, especially when he was also his boss.

Speaking of such pressures, Andrea Mancini was recently quoted as saying: “The name is a huge weight. My father was a fantastic player and is a great coach too, but I want to work and to vindicate myself. I hope that one day they will remember me as Andrea Mancini”.

Having been released by Manchester City at the end of last season, the 19-year-old now finds himself in Spain, attempting to kick start his career after signing a one year deal with  Real Valladolid B of the Tercera División.

In fact the Italian youngster already harbours ambitions of forging a career in Spain which he hopes will one day see him play, and be managed, by the league’s elite.

“My dad told me to take advantage of such a big opportunity to play in a team in the Spanish. One day I hope to play for Mourinho and be the best in Spain” he commented.

It must be said that I have been tracking the progress of Andrea Mancini more than most. Trips on a cold and wet December evening down to Hyde’s Ewan Fields to watch the Elite Development Squad play were almost religious in their nature.

With the accusations about nepotism never far away from cynical lips, it was hard not to feel sorry for the youngster who more often than not resembled a rabbit caught in the headlights. He seemed a likeable character and after speaking to him after one particular match, it was evident he clearly loved the game. Unfortunately however, it seemed English football did not love him back.

I so wanted Andrea to succeed. I so wanted him to be just half the player that his hugely-talented father was, but ultimately Andrea failed to make any sort of impression to suggest that he was ever going to challenge for a place in the first team squad at the Etihad Stadium. With the vast array of riches that Manchester City currently possesses, there is certainly no shame in that.

A slight physique, Mancini jnr struggled with the physicality that English football is renowned for. Dawdling on the ball when there is an absence of pressure is fine, but it is certainly not when you have two towering centre halves closing you down. He got the ball, he lost it, he tried to win it back, and he gave away a free kick. Repeat for the 90 minute duration.

The forward did get a taste of English senior football with League One Oldham Athletic, but the above pattern kept emerging and he managed just five outings before being moved onto Italian side Fano last season.

The Boundary Park faithful that I know said that Andrea was worse than awful and a failed trail at league one Bournemouth this summer, suggests that the English game certainly isn’t for him. And yet every now and again, there was a little flick or dribble that may not have been special, but was certainly competent.

The fact that during his time with Bologna he was a regular starter in the “Primavera” with players two years his senior, suggests that something is there. Getting it out of him on a regular basis seems to be the problem.

Maybe, just maybe, Spain will be the destination where that can happen and while Andrea Mancini will likely get nowhere near the first team of Valladolid this season, it is a league that will suit his style of play.

Ironically, upon hearing the news that Andrea had signed for his club, one Valladolid fan proclaimed on a social media network: “This is a great signing for my team. Mancini will light up La Liga this year!”

Somehow, it appears highly unlikely. The move may have grabbed the headlines, but the reality is that Andrea Mancini still has much to do before he can emerge from the looming shadow of his distinguished father.

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