So what does our failure to get fourth mean for the future of Mancini? In the most basic sense he has failed: he was brought in to get Champions League football, on the basis that Mark Hughes 'results trajectory' was not good enough. But does this mean that the break clause in his contract should be activated, that we should bring in our fifth manager in five years to refashion the squad for next year's challenge?
No chance. This was a point I kept on making during the disputes over Mark Hughes' management, but it clearly needs restating: maintaining or sacking a manager should not be a reward for success or a punishment for failure. Rather, it should be based on a judgement of who is best equipped to take the club forward. Sacking Mancini might make the board feel authoritative but if we couldn't find a better replacement it would be damaging. Surveying the options, there is one manager who most blues would willingly sack Mancini for. But I can't see José Mourinho choosing to take over a Europa League side for next season.
Any judgement on the medium term interests of MCFC must factor in the importance of stability, the destructive impact of any further upheaval and associated teething problems, and the importance of a coach like Mancini who has experience winning trophies as well as some acquaintance with the playing staff and infrastructure of MCFC.
(One problem we have in assessing Mancini is that to date he has been essentially doing the job of an international manager: organising and motivating a set of players that he has no real ownership of. We haven't learnt yet how good he is at building a squad; signing the right players, getting them to gel, cutting out those that don't fit. This is at least as much a part of top-level club management as the organisational stuff - it's what makes Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson as brilliant as they are - and we don't know if it's Mancini's forte or not.)
Which is a rather messy way of saying that there are arguments for the retention of Mancini beyond his record so far. Not just because these decisions should be forward-looking, but also because his record only reflects one element of a club manager's skill-set. On the presumption that Mourinho won't join, there is no manager we could bring to City this summer who would be a sufficient improvement on Mancini to justify the turmoil and upheaval inherent in their introduction. Roberto might not be perfect but we must stick with him for next season.