Roberto Mancini’s problems took a turn for the worse when his two-year-old dog, ‘Tollie’, refused to chase after a ball that had been thrown for him in an impromptu game of fetch. Coming only days after Carlos Tevez’s refusal to warm up as a possible late substitute in the Champions’ League, it undermines the embattled Manchester City manager’s authority yet further, just at a time when he needed to show who was boss.
The embarrassing incident occurred in a public park in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, when Mancini took the pet toy out of his pocket and threw it as far as he could, saying ‘Go on Tollie, fetch!’ The dog nonchalantly looked at the ball disappearing into the distance and then returned his attention to a KFC box that had been abandoned under a nearby bush.
‘Tollie feels that it is pointless to chase after the ball if Mancini is just going to throw it away again,’ said a spokesman for the dog. ‘It is degrading and a waste of time and energy. And in any case the squeak has broken on that one and it’s no fun.’
To compound Mancini’s humiliation, Sir Alex Ferguson happened to be walking his own dog nearby, which faithfully fetched his ball and dropped it lovingly at his master’s feet. ‘Maybe the solution is for Mancini to play his pit-bull terrier up front for Manchester City,’ said his rival. ‘He’s better looking than Tevez for a start.’