Mancini: I am under no pressure
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists he is not under pressure despite an angry reaction from his club's fans during and after a dour goalless home draw with Birmingham City at Eastlands.
Mancini's side have now gone four hours and 45 minutes without scoring at home in the league following yesterday's stalemate. Supporters booed City off at the end of each half and vented their fury in no uncertain terms at the Italian as he took off popular forward Carlos Tevez late in the game, replacing him with midfield player Gareth Barry.
Mancini defended that decision, and the performance of himself and his team in general, but there is no doubt that, having invested over £300m in talent in recent seasons, City should be performing at a higher level.
"The supporters think 'okay, lets play two, three, four or five strikers,'" said Mancini, defending the Tevez substitution. "The fans might like that but if it was like that I'd play with ten strikers on the pitch but that is not football. We had 17 chances in this game to score.
"We were playing with all our players in the box. And Carlos has had a little injury for two or three weeks. I felt that we needed to take off a striker to create a chance to score. If you play with four strikers it doesn't mean you score four goals. Football isn't like that. I must think like a manager not a supporter.
"We're all unhappy but we played at 100 per cent and had a lot of chances to score. Some day we will score a lot of goals. Today it was important that we had the chances to score. The problem is when you don't score those chances."
While seeming to defend himself quite aggressively against the criticism from City fans, Mancini did sympathise with their dissatisfaction. "I am also frustrated because I also wanted to win this game," he said.
"But pressure? For what? I am not under pressure, we are in fourth place. We have some problems and we must improve. Sometimes if you want to entertain the supporters, you play with three strikers but then you lose your balance.
"We have had this problem all season. If Carlos doesn't score a goal we don't have another player who can score because [Mario] Balotelli has been injured and is now suspended and Ade [Emmanuel Adebayor] is now injured."
Mancini's claim that he does not possess a player capable of scoring a goal will earn him little sympathy, given the amount of money his club has spent on new players, and a return of seven league goals from seven home league games for City is clearly not what was expected of the club at the start of the season.
His opposite number Alex McLeish had little sympathy for the problems he helped create for Mancini. "Fans are entitled to their opinion and you've got to try and get the right system for the players you have," he said. "Sometimes the system can affect one individual and that can throw your whole team out of kilter."
The closest the game came to a goal was late in the first half when Tevez steered a David Silva header into the goal, clearly using his hand, an infringement for which he was booked and a hard-earned point was enough to give McLeish optimism that Birmingham can remain in the top flight.
"What a shift the players put in for us. I thought we were comfortable in the first half, apart from the Tevez moment [disallowed goal] but the second half was a bit scary and we probably shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times," he said.