I don't need friends, just titles! Mancini declares his strong desire to win big
22:52 GMT, 20 March 2012
00:42 GMT, 21 March 2012
Roberto Mancini’s message ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Chelsea could not have been more emphatic.
‘We will win the title,’ said the Manchester City manager in his ever-improving English.
As he prepares for a game that you feel his team really must win, Mancini can only hope that his players share his belief.
Ready: Roberto Mancini believes his charges will go on to win the title
On TV on Saturday night, Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen suggested City were ‘on the verge of capitulation’ after the previous week’s defeat at Swansea. That was a peculiar thing to say.
Nevertheless, with neighbours Manchester United four points ahead in the Barclays Premier League, City are about to be asked the kind of questions that are foreign to them.
Mancini is soon to find out whether his players are capable of digging out the results he needs if his second full season at the Etihad Stadium is not to end without a trophy.
‘They should do it for themselves and for the club,’ said Mancini on Tuesday.
‘They should not need to do it for me. For the same reasons as them, I want to win this championship.
‘I am confident because the players are very strong and they know we have a big chance to win this title. I also think we deserve this after being top for seven months.
Out: Mancini suffered a Europa League exit
‘We were top of the league until one week ago, so we don’t want to lose this chance to win.’
Mancini’s rhetoric was impressive and categorical. It usually is.
The City manager’s position should not be in question even if he does not win anything this season. One hopes his employers peer across the directors’ box tonight and realise the example set by Chelsea over the last five years is not one to follow.
However, the next month or so will tell us something about the effectiveness of Mancini’s management style.
Rather in the manner of Rafael Benitez when he was at Liverpool, Mancini treats his players like employees, moving parts in a much larger machine. He is not a manager who puts an arm round the shoulder of players.
Mancini does not seek or care for popularity among the squad. Nor does he covet it in the boardroom.
Livewire: Sergio Aguero scored a brace in the Europa League, can he continue in this vein on Wednesday
Certain: Mancini is sure his players will all pull in the right direction
To him, popularity comes with results — nothing else — and the Italian’s record would appear to suggest his pragmatic approach works. Three Serie A titles go a long way to enhancing a coach’s cv.
Here in England, though, players can be particularly capricious and signs of dissent, such as that shown by the normally impenetrable Gareth Barry on being substituted at Swansea recently, did suggest that pressure has begun to permeate the City dressing room.
Asked if his players would pull in the right direction between now and mid-May, Mancini said: ‘If they don’t do this, they are not professional players. Many players here have never had a chance like this to win the title.
‘If one player plays badly, he can leave the pitch after 30 minutes like Gareth Barry. Gareth played two bad games that month because he had a problem with his back.
‘But Gareth is a good guy. He was probably disappointed because to leave a game after 30 minutes is not good for any player. We didn’t have a problem with him.’
As has been the case since the Europa League defeat in Lisbon two weeks ago, Mancini’s problems are more physical than mental. The City coach was downbeat about the chances of central defenders Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany the game and it is understood the duo have virtually no chance of starting.
Facing a Chelsea side encouraged by their Champions League success at home to Napoli last week and by the two goals that came the way of Fernando Torres in the FA Cup against Leicester at the weekend, this is not the best time to be relying on the reserve defensive pairing of Kolo Toure and Stefan Savic.
Back: Carlos Tevez could feature against Chelsea
On top of that, English football’s most famous renegade, Carlos Tevez, will return to the Etihad to assume a seat among the substitutes for the first time since failing to take the field when requested at Bayern Munich in September.
Mancini suggested that Tevez had been training ‘better than ever’ in recent days, even if he feels the South American is short of match fitness.
'He can play no more than 30 minutes at the moment,’ he said.
Tevez, of course, is one player who does know how to win an English championship. He did it with United in 2008 and 2009.
For now, he is not the issue. By this time tomorrow, City must be back in touch with their rivals. ‘It changes nothing to be one point behind at this moment, because we have another 10 games, including a derby,’ said Mancini.
‘We have everything in our hands.’
Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Richards, K Toure, Savic, Clichy; Nasri, Y Toure, Barry, Silva; Balotelli, Aguero.
Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Lampard, Essien, Ramires; Mata, Sturridge; Drogba
KO: 7.45pm Etihad Stadium
TV: LIVE Sky Sports 1, Match of the Day BBC1 10.45pm
Referee: Mike Dean