Friday, January 15, 2010

Realist Roberto Mancini does not believe Manchester City can win the title

Roberto Mancini does not consider Manchester City to be potential Barclays Premier League champions. Not for the time being, anyhow.
The memory of the removal of Mark Hughes as City manager last month has become little more than the smallest of afterthoughts for the fans at the City of Manchester Stadium, whose fond memories of Hughes have been dulled by subsequent victories over Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League as well as an FA Cup third-round victory over Middlesbrough.
However, behind Mancini’s supposed Midas touch lies a healthy dash of realism and he has moved to quell any over-enthusiasm regarding City’s chances of winning the English top-flight title for the first time since 1968.
Mancini’s new position is in contrast with his claims last month that City could still be leading contenders but those optimistic words appear increasingly like an attempt to appease fans after Hughes’s sacking.

“To my mind there are three teams who can win the league; Chelsea, United and Arsenal,” he said “Football can be strange and things can change in a couple of months. There are other teams who are only just behind so nothing is totally impossible but for me, it is between those three.
“It’s important now that we must play very well and improve game after game, then look at the table in two months. Now there are six or seven teams who can arrive in the top four. It’s a long way away, 18 games for us. It’s important we improve in the future. Now the target is the top four.”
That City have won all their games under Mancini, and conceded only one goal in that spell, would suggest that he has already won the respect of what was a sceptical dressing room only 25 days ago.
Yet the City ointment does contain one fly, in the shape of Robinho. The change in management has again failed to ignite a talent that was supposed to illuminate the Premier League when he arrived from Real Madrid for £34.2 million in the summer of 2008.
Robinho has looked as listless under this manager as he did the previous one. The Brazil forward has not started since a terrible performance against Stoke City in Mancini’s first match in charge and his perceived poor attitude was highlighted by Mancini having to ask him twice to start warming up against Blackburn Rovers on Monday evening.
The player did so begrudgingly but that does not bode well for the future and although Mancini remains convinced that Robinho can improve, he admits that he wants to see more for the considerable sum that City paid.
“How much a player cost is not important,” Mancini said. “What you pay only matters when you are in the act of buying someone. The important thing after that is the player working hard and playing well.
“Robinho technically is top. He has played for Brazil and played for Real Madrid. I don’t want to change his mentality. He is a Brazilian player, they are very technical, [but] I think he can improve in certain situations.”
Mancini also confirmed that he will be allowing Vladimir Weiss, the Slovakia winger, to go out on loan to further his development.


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