- Associated Press - Monday, May 13, 2013

LONDON (AP) - Manchester City fired manager Roberto Mancini on Monday, exactly one year after he delivered the club’s first English league title in 44 years.

The Italian coach, who had four years remaining on his contract, was dismissed just as players from rival Manchester United were being cheered through the streets while they paraded the Premier League trophy that they recaptured from their neighbors.

City said its end-of-season review was brought forward “out of respect for Roberto” after it was reported that Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has been lined up to replace him. Mancini’s final days in charge were marked by his criticism of City management for its failure to deny those reports.

For his part, Pellegrini is only denying a deal is in place, leaving open the possibility that he could be headed to the Premier League.

Mancini has paid the price for City’s failure to build on its position of strength. The club will end the season without a trophy after losing the FA Cup final on Saturday and exited the group stage of the Champions League for the second straight season.

“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,” City said in a statement.

“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.”

United regained the Premier League trophy from City with four games to spare, and manager Alex Ferguson announced retirement plans last week after almost 27 years at Old Trafford.

Ferguson leaves having seen off City’s 14th permanent manager during his tensure. Dubbed the “noisy neighbor” by Ferguson, City started posing a real threat only after Mancini replaced Mark Hughes in 2009.

By City’s standards, before its purchase by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 2008, finishing second in the league this month would have been an achievement. But a team that has benefited from about $1 billion of investment in five years appears to be going backward.

The FA Cup final, which Mancini won in 2011 to end the club’s 35-year trophy drought, was lost this year to relegation-threatened Wigan.

City beat United for the Premier League title last May on goal difference, and Mancini was rewarded with a new five-year contract.

Roberto’s record speaks for itself, and he has the respect and gratitude of Sheikh Mansour, myself and the board for all of his hard work and commitment over the last three and a half years,” chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said. “He has clearly also secured the love and respect of our fans. He has done as he promised and delivered silverware and success, breaking the club’s 35-year trophy drought and securing the title in 2012.

“I would like to personally and publicly thank him for his dedication to the progress that he has overseen and for his support and continued friendship.”

Assistant manager Brian Kidd will take charge of City for the last two games of the season, at Reading on Tuesday and at home against Norwich on Sunday, before leading a postseason tour to the United States.

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