By Greg Stobart
Roberto Mancini met with new Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain for the first time this week - and was told the club’s performances in the Champions League must improve.
The pair met in person on Wednesday having previously only spoken in phone conversations and will now hold weekly meetings at City’s training ground to evaluate the club’s progress.
In the wake of City’s 2-2 draw with Ajax on Tuesday night, Begiristain told the Italian of his disappointment with the team’s European displays as they sit bottom of Group D with two points and only two matches remaining.
Mancini’s minimum target was to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, a task that looks effectively “finished” - in the 47-year-old’s words - after being drawn in a tough group alongside Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
Mancini has won four league titles in his managerial career as well as domestic cups but has never made it past the quarter-finals in the Champions League, a competition of great importance on and off the pitch to City’s Abu Dhabi owners as they target global domination.
While there is no suggestion that Mancini is under pressure only months after signing a five-year contract, his meeting Begiristain confirms suggestions that the manager’s power base has been weakened by structural changes at the Etihad Stadium.
Begiristain was appointed last month as he re-united with City chief executive Ferran Soriano, who started his role in August. The pair worked together at Barcelona where, with manager Pep Guardiola, they oversaw the most successful period in the club’s history.
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