Even Alex Ferguson was appalled by Manchester City’s dismissal of Mark Hughes and subsequent installation of Roberto Mancini as new manager earlier this week, but to the Guardian’s Marina Hyde, it was high entertainment on the level of a traditional Christmas spectacular.

In part it’s a gaiety-of-the-nation thing. But this is, after all, the time of year at which we traditionally display a weakness for comedy bad guys, and following blanket critical notices for his hilarious performance at that Eastlands press conference on Monday, at which he unveiled the new manager, Roberto Mancini, there is no reason why (Manchester CIty CEO) Garry Cook should not line up alongside your King Rats and your Captain Hooks.

Sitting next to Mancini, he had mastered the “bulldog chewing a wasp” face which is the stock in trade of the scuppered pantomime villain, and which is currently being deployed twice daily by national treasures from Brian Blessed (Abanazar, Wimbledon) to Nigel Havers (Fleshcreep, Nottingham). The only disappointment is that City have yet to bus in small children to throw sweets at Garry. That might be a part of “the project” to kickstart in the new year.

On Monday, our hapless antihero insisted to the assembled throng that there had been absolutely “no conspiracy” “ and those who prefer to reserve the term for things such as Watergate might well agree. Alas, Mancini’s amusing decision to undermine his new chief executive’s account about 27 seconds later has left people decrying Garry’s “covert operation”, as though it were akin to the Bay of Pigs, as opposed to lining up the Italian and telling him to enjoy the complimentary shortbread in Manchester’s Lowry Hotel until the coast was clear.