Mancini dismisses talk of pressure
Roberto Mancini emerged from the Manchester City maelstrom insisting pressure will never be a problem following his experience at Inter Milan.
After successive goalless draws and amid allegations of negative tactics, Mancini was being lined up to take a hefty tumble at the hands of former City boss Mark Hughes at Craven Cottage yesterday.
Instead it was Hughes left with egg on his face as three first-half goals set the Blues on their way to an impressive 4-1 win which leaves them just a single win adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea. Mancini could be forgiven for breathing a hefty sigh of relief following Carlos Tevez's double, which sandwiched strikes from Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure.
But the Italian, who celebrates his 46th birthday on Saturday, remains completely detached from all the talk, supremely confident in his ability to fashion a winning team from his expensively-assembled squad and secure in the knowledge that, after Inter, nothing will compare.
"Journalists continue to say I am under pressure. I am not under pressure," he said. "When you have worked for Inter Milan for four years it is impossible to be under pressure. "They are one of the top teams in Italy and one of the biggest clubs in the world. "When I went there, they hadn't won anything for 25 years.
"I was under pressure every day with people demanding to know, 'when will Inter win? When, when, when?' "But I stayed four years, which is a big record for a manager there." As Mancini also won three Serie A crowns and created a dominance that continued through the Jose Mourinho era, he feels secure in knowing which way is best for City.
Hughes did not even get 18 months despite repeated assurances from the club's cash-rich Abu Dhabi owners. But, even in an era when City have more spending power than any of their rivals - and are paying more out in wages than their present turnover - Mancini is wary of trying to move too quickly.
"It is impossible to build a house from the roof down," he said. "You must start with the basement. Now, maybe we are on the second floor. We have time but we must continue to improve." Depending on the size of dwelling Mancini has in mind, City are either getting close to the top, or only at the start of construction.
The same sentiment could be deduced from their last two results. Mancini might claim City created 17 scoring opportunities in the second half alone against Birmingham last weekend but most people who were at Eastlands struggle to recall them. Yet his side were as good yesterday as they were bad a week earlier.
Their dominance of possession after Tevez's well-taken opener offered no way back for Fulham, who were then blitzed by those quick-fire goals at the end of the opening period. City did not force the pace too much after half-time, but then there was no need for them to and now they can look forward to a different kind of examination at Stoke next Saturday - when Pablo Zabaleta will be missing through suspension - with a huge degree of confidence.
"We have had a couple of good performances but this was one of a very high standard," admitted defender Vincent Kompany. "When we came in at half-time we said this is the standard we have to expect from ourselves now for the whole season. "There is not one minute of this season that we want to play at a lower level than we did at Fulham. Maybe we won't achieve it but if the team shows this mentality it is a good thing.
"Who knows where we go now but the ambition of any team in the top six should be to compete with Chelsea and Manchester United and there is no reason to suggest why it would not be possible."