Manchester City: Five players Mancini must axe this summer
Roberto Mancini has enjoyed a successful time with Manchester City. He has brought some big name players to the club, ended the club's trophy drought by bringing the FA Cup to the Etihad and last season claimed the Premier League in extraordinary fashion.
City were expected to build from that platform and dominate the English game, but the Italian chief made one huge error last summer . . . he failed to improve his squad. Whether it was naivety or arrogance, I'm not sure, but Mancini should have splashed the cash to bring more top names to the club. There is nothing worse in football than standing still as you are likely to be caught with your pants down, as City have discovered this season.
Today City find themselves 15 points behind their arch rivals Manchester United with only nine games left to play. City's only real hope of silverware this season is the FA Cup, but must overcome a tough semi-final clash against the winners of Easter Monday's replay Chelsea or Man United.
It may have been so different if Mancini had not opted to sign the likes of Scott Sinclair, Maicon, Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia.
But here are the five players Mancini must get rid of in the summer.
1. Samir Nasri
The former Arsenal midfielder was close to joining Manchester United before City added another couple of zeros to his salary but has failed to justify his wages. Nasri is simply not a team player. His goal return of six Premier League goals in 50 appearances says it all. City paid Arsenal £24m for his services. I'd be amazed if they sell him on for even half of that.
It pains me to say it because on his day Yaya Toure is phenomenal, but when he's not he is so average and frustrating. Yaya Toure played a pivotal role in winning the FA Cup and Premier League with goals in the semi-final over Man United and against Newcastle United in the penultimate league game last year, but he has failed to turn up for so many games this season. Rumours over the past few days claim that Toure wants a new deal or he will leave. Well unless he finds some consistency to his form I think the club would do well to get rid.
3. Gareth Barry
The former Aston Villa and England midfielder is now 32 years of age and showing it. Barry was never the most electric player in the world; his running in treacle moment for England against Germany in the World Cup clearly illustrated his lack of pace. Mancini obviously likes Barry's workrate and professionalism, but i feel Mancini boobed by letting De Jong go and not Barry.
4. Kolo Toure
Another former Arsenal star who is happy just to pick up his big fat wages at the Etihad, Toure must go. Part of the Arsenal Invincibles in 2004, Toure was one of the quickest and smartest players in the game. However, Toure has failed to reproduce that form at the Etihad. He is below Kompany and Nastasic when it comes to a starting place, but chosen ahead of Lescott - who has obviously done something to upset the manager and may also be on his way out in the summer. However, I'd get rid of Toure.
5. Scott Sinclair
The former Swansea City winger has made just two Premier League starts for the champions this season and has looked out of his depth at Eastlands. He may have been a big fish in a small pond at Swansea but the 23-year-old appears to be drowning in the skills pool at City. He may be one for the future but it was always a surprise move by Mancini. The boss would do well to move Sinclair on and sign an experienced professional.
Of course there are plenty of underachievers who could have found their place on this list. Javi Garcia has failed to find his feet at the Etihad this season and Kolarov can be hugely frustrating, while there are also question marks over the future of Tevez, Aguero and Dzeko. Some people have even questioned the effectiveness of David Silva this season, but I can't see City allowing him to leave.
One thing is for sure though, if City are to wrestle the title back off Manchester United next season then they will have to have a clear-out of all the deadwood and inject some new life and energy into the place or Mancini may be the man facing the axe.
Calling all City fans: Do you agree with my assessment? If you could get rid of five players, who would you choose and why? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.