independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

City tensions run high as Hart bites back at Mancini

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart fought his corner against his manager Roberto Mancini in a heated post-match dressing-room exchange after the Italian blamed him for the Robin van Persie goal which inflicted Sunday's last-minute derby defeat.

Mancini's senior players continue to be bemused and frustrated by his public criticism of them and in the fiery argument after Manchester United's victory, Hart told the manager that he had ordered Carlos Tevez to leave the defensive wall for Van Persie's free-kick – in contradiction of the Italian's orders.

Hart insisted the Argentinian was obstructing his view of the ball and argued that there was no way he could have known that Samir Nasri would duck behind the wall and merely stick out a leg when Van Persie's free-kick came in. If the Frenchman had stood his ground and done his job he would have taken the ball full on his face, Hart reasoned.

Mancini insisted after the defeat that he had told Tevez to stay in the wall, though Hart's own instructions were being frantically conveyed by Gareth Barry in the seconds before the set-piece which sealed United's 3-2 victory and triggered a frenzied finale at the Etihad Stadium.

The defensive uncertainty led Hart (left) to lean fractionally towards the left-hand side of his net, which the wall should have covered, as the Netherlands striker approached the ball.

That left Hart slightly flatfooted and unable to reach the ball delivered just inside his right post.

The City manager's relationship with Hart seemed unbreakable when he gave him the jersey over former Ireland star Shay Given at the start of the 2010-11 season.

Hart has also emerged as one of the natural leaders of the team, noticeably for his honesty after the club's failures in Europe this season.

But this has not always gone down well with Mancini and the spirit of collectivism which the squad seems to need is not there. (© Independent News Service)

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