Mancini tells sceptics they must adapt to his Trap-style 'shadow-play'
Published 24/02/2010 | 05:00
Roberto Mancini yesterday insisted that his Manchester City charges must adapt to his philosophies if they are to prosper.
The City players have been perplexed by their new manager's keenness for 'shadow-play' without a football in training -- even though it is something used by Giovanni Trapattoni with his Ireland squad.
Ahead of tonight's difficult FA Cup fifth-round replay at Stoke, Mancini finds his approach to match preparation under scrutiny after three tepid draws, with Craig Bellamy sceptical about some elements of the training regime.
Mancini responded to the doubters yesterday, saying: "I understand that maybe they are not happy working on tactics but this is my method. I work because if you want to win the Champions League and Premier League you must be prepared very well for every situation: tactics, power, running.
"If these things are not good, it is impossible to win. I don't know if they don't like that. They are working very well."
Shadow-play -- in which two full sides go on to the training pitch without a ball, with one of the sides running into areas of the field where threats are anticipated in the next match and the other side responding to them -- is relatively uncommon in England. The continual focus is on the shape of the team as they move around the pitch.
The City player best acquainted with the new approach -- which is far different from predecessor Mark Hughes' preference for quick, high-tempo games in training -- is goalkeeper Shay Given, who has experienced it in the Ireland set-up.
"Sometimes it can be a bit boring, walking through things and doing shape and shadow-play in practice matches," Given said of Trapattoni's methods recently. "But you do benefit from it as a team -- knowing what the manager wants is crucial."
Mancini also faces the challenge of keeping Shaun Wright-Phillips focused while his advisers push for a lucrative new contract, despite his deal having over two years to run. City do not feel any pressure to rush through a new deal.
Meanwhile, Mancini expects Carlos Tevez back in Manchester by Friday, despite his prematurely born daughter remaining in intensive care in Buenos Aires.
"Good question," Mancini said when asked where Tevez was. "I spoke with him yesterday and I think he comes back Thursday or Friday morning. It's important he comes back Thursday or Friday because he can play against Chelsea.
"He has been training every morning in Argentina."