Roberto Mancini played down talk of a row with Carlos Tevez after the Argentina striker reacted angrily to being substituted in the closing seconds of Manchester City's 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
The duo appeared to exchange angry words as Tevez, who had earlier scored his tenth goal of the season, left the field to be replaced by James Milner in the 90th minute at Eastlands. It is not the first time Tevez has clashed with his boss after reports of a dressing room row earlier this season, but the Italian again kept his cool over the supposed rift.
"I'm happy for that," said Mancini of his player's reaction. "I'd like all the players to be like Carlos. At the moment, every player wants to stay on the pitch but I needed a player like Milner on there because he is taller than Carlos and better at set pieces. I have no problem with what Carlos said."
The bigger issue surrounding Tevez may well be that his fifth booking of the season now means he will miss City's next game, the visit to West Ham United on Saturday. Given the number of chances City missed against Bolton, and the fact Mancini recently said that if Tevez does not score for his side, nobody does, his absence could be a concern.
Mancini, however, took a more positive view this time and said: "I'm sure we could cover for him. We must improve because every time Carlos doesn't play, we must continue to score. We have other players who can score."
However, the City manager did concede that his side must improve their finishing after missing a host of chances against Bolton. "I'm happy we won but we must improve this situation. Like against Birmingham, we had a lot of chances to score and, games like this, if you don't score two or three, you can draw," he said.
"We deserved to win by three or four but we must improve. Sometimes the players were too selfish. If I'd played in this game, I would have scored two or three! We didn't concede a chance in the first half and had maybe 15 chances to score but this is football. For that reason, we must score."
Victory keeps City within three points of new leaders Arsenal, following the postponement of previous leaders Manchester United's visit to Blackpool. Mancini holds firm to his belief that out-of-sorts Chelsea will retain their title and did not entertain the notion of City competing for it.
"I continue to think Chelsea will win the title but, for us, we will continue to work hard and continue to play and look at the table every week," he said. "Every game is difficult in the Premier League. We might not have to play United or Chelsea this month but we have to play at West Ham, Everton at home - very, very hard games."
City will also be without full-back Aleksandar Kolarov, sent off late in the game after collecting two yellow cards within the space of four minutes, the second for a lunge on Sam Ricketts, a decision with which Mancini disagreed. "I don't agree with that sending off," he said. "Like I didn't agree in the first half when the linesman gave David Silva offside. I didn't think it was a sending off. Kolarov took the ball before."
Bolton manager Owen Coyle could not be too despondent, given his team's recent fine run of form, and, while he was reluctant to discuss such prospects, the chances of his team qualifying for Europe look strong for the second half of the campaign.
"I'm not being evasive but I only look from one week to another," he said. "We're not one of those glamour, elite clubs with a two or three-year plan. We have to go from week to week."