Mancini aiming for the Champions League
The Blues manager has again been forced onto the defensive over his tactics in the dismal 0-0 derby draw with Manchester United on Wednesday. Although United hardly carved out a hatful of chances, Mancini has largely been held responsible for the tepid goalless stalemate, and bringing what are perceived to be tactics straight out of Serie A into the Premier League.
Yet Mancini views the outcome as a point gained rather than two lost. While most of his critics are judging City's performances by the money they have spent and the sight of
Having been set a pre-season target of securing UEFA Champions League qualification for next term, the current table, which has City in fourth, four points ahead of next best Newcastle United, suits the Italian just fine.
"We are in a good position," said Mancini. "If the Premier League finished tomorrow I would be happy. Our target is to get to the Champions League. But targets can change during the season. It is important for us to stay at the top until January because the league can change after that, when the Champions League starts again. Then, maybe Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will have their focus on this competition."
Not that the City chief views the title as a realistic aspiration. When he explained earlier in the season that he thought Chelsea would finish top "easily", it was interpreted as kidology from Mancini given his team subsequently went out and inflicted a first defeat of the season on Carlo Ancelotti's men.
Yet, ahead of the meeting with United he claimed Manchester's finest were in a battle for second spot. And he is at a loss to understand why his words are still not being taken at face value.
"When I was asked about
It is difficult to imagine the manager of a rival club making such a statement about the Londoners, yet it is clearly how Mancini views the situation. January will certainly be a key month because it is the only time reinforcements can be acquired. The departure of chief executive
Not true, counters the former Inter Milan coach, whilst at the same time accepting further purchases could be made if existing members of his squad decide they wish to play somewhere else, a position that could apply to a number of people, including
"I must speak with Shaun," said Mancini. "Everyone wants to play. This is normal. But when you stay in a top team it is not easy to always play and I can understand his frustration."
After two tough games already this week, Mancini intends to make a number of changes for tomorrow's visit of Birmingham City to Eastlands, which will almost certainly include a recall for England winger
"Our supporters and journalists criticised us but we tried to win," he said. "We tried to win but we were not on the pitch alone. We had opponents trying to stop us. I didn't think it was a boring game. Maybe people prefer 3-3 or 4-4 but this is impossible. We must have a balance. You try to score but you must also defend."