manchester city news

Cook believes Liverpool sounded out Mancini

December 23, 2009
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Roberto Mancini may have been 'sounded out' by Liverpool at the time their American owners had contacted Jurgen Klinsmann as a contingency plan for replacing Rafael Benitez.

Cook defends City conduct
Mancini focusing on defensive issues

Roberto Mancini, Garry Cook
GettyImagesRoberto Mancini standing alongside chief executive Garry Cook

Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook is convinced that Mancini, who won the Serie A title three years in a row with Inter Milan before being replaced by Jose Mourinho, is good enough to have been considered by Liverpool.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett eventually failed to agree on whether to offer Klinsmann the position, but it now appears the former Germany boss was not the only coach on the Americans' wanted list and that Mancini was also a contender.

Cook uses the example of Liverpool's contingency plans - i.e. sounding out Klinsmann while Benitez was oblivious to the behind-the-scenes talks - as an example of how clubs explore the possibilities of replacing their manager when times are tough, even if they are not necessarily going to make a change.

Cook is livid that the City owners and the club's board have been savaged by the media because of the manner of Mark Hughes' sacking, suggesting that Mancini had been lined up for some time.

But Cook told this website in an exclusive interview that the decision to sack Hughes was taken the day after the Spurs defeat, and not a day earlier. Clearly, though, the general discussions with Mancini were part of this industry sounding-out process.

Cook told ESPN Soccernet: "It is naive to think that clubs are not looking at their options. Of course they are. Do we think that Liverpool just talked to Klinsmann? I am sure they also spoke to others, and I have no doubt that Roberto Mancini was one of them. Of course he would have been.

"We have been linked with Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink and Klinsmann, but I have never met any of them."

Again, representatives of all of the leading contenders were contacted through third parties to seek their views about their futures.

Cook said: "Any club looking at their managerial options would draw up a list, and a club like ours would look at the best in the world, so why wouldn't all the names mentioned, if they are indeed the best in the world, be on our list?

"But it is totally unrealistic to think we could sign Arsene Wenger, for example. He is far too loyal, and quite rightly so. We are fully aware that Guus Hiddink has made it known that in three years' time he doesn't want to be in coaching, so it's a process of fact-finding."

Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to return to the Premier League, and would promise to deliver the Champions League trophy itself - but at a price.

That price is not just his inflated fee: his managerial style would conflict with City's desire to set up a scouting network and find their own young talent as opposed to just throwing money at buying new players.

It is rare for someone like Cook to be so frank about the inner workings of a club, but he wanted to explain to the fans how the process of exploring the possibilities of a new manager works - not just at City, but generally within the game.

This, he feels, is the correct way for City supporters to learn about the process, and he wants to give City a chance to be portrayed as a football business going about things with methods that are regarded as 'custom and practice'.

City made their move when the results became intolerable, and the defeat by Spurs was indeed the watershed for Mark Hughes' career at the club, but Cook is incensed that City are being misrepresented in the way they went about recruiting Mancini.

"The fact that Mancini met the owner on December 7 in London is not the same as the fact that we had made up our minds then to sack Mark Hughes," he said. "We decided to sack the manager after the Spurs defeat.

"The fact that conversations took place prior to that is what lots of people do in football, and is part of what we do - it is what goes on within the game. But there is nothing misleading about what we told the public, the fans, and the media in our press conference."