Mancini spits at speculation

Roberto Mancini

Andy Hampson

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is tiring of recurring speculation over his future at the Etihad Stadium.

The Italian swore in front of reporters and TV cameras at his latest press conference when told Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is the latest name to be linked with his job.

Mancini is under scrutiny with the champions 12 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League title race and seemingly out of contention with just 12 games remaining.

Only last week he vigorously defended his record and dismissed suggestions he could be sacked, but that has not prevented reports Pellegrini is being lined up as his successor.

These rumours were put to Mancini in the first question as he met media to preview tomorrow's clash with Chelsea and his response indicated his weariness.

After a shrug, but then a smile, the 48-year-old said: "****** hell!"

After a brief pause and a laugh, he gave a more thorough response. The Italian said: "I cannot continue to answer about this every week. We have another two months. In two months you will know if this can happen but I can't continue with this. This is normal for you, it's your job, don't worry, but I can't continue to answer each week about one (manager) or another or another.

"But also because I don't understand this – why would Manchester City change their manager? For what reasons?"

Mancini has made a big impact at City since succeeding Mark Hughes in December 2009.

He ended the club's 35-year trophy drought by overseeing FA Cup success in 2011 and followed up with last season's dramatic title victory, a first league crown in 44 years.

His success was rewarded with a new five-year contract last summer and there has been no indication from the club's owners they are unhappy with their manager since.

Yet that did not stop rumours he was on borrowed time after a second successive Champions League failure earlier this season, and the faltering title defence has fuelled speculation.

But Mancini remains a popular figure among fans, and his name was chanted during last Sunday's convincing 4-0 FA Cup fifth-round win over Leeds.

Mancini said: "After the FA Cup (game) I said that in the last 18 months since Manchester United won the Premier League, there were seven trophies (to play for) and Manchester City won three of those seven trophies. For this reason I don't understand (the speculation).

"I'm not the CEO or chairman, if you want to ask these questions ask them.

"I have four more years on my contract, I think I'm doing well, I am happy here."

While Mancini may feel beleaguered, he has not had to suffer the personal abuse Rafael Benitez, his opposite number this weekend, has endured at Stamford Bridge.

The Spaniard has never won over supporters since taking over from Roberto Di Matteo on an interim basis in November and his tenure is not widely expected to be extended beyond the summer.

Mancini said: "They had a big problem. When you change a manager it's normal you can have a big problem but it's my opinion they are a fantastic team and Benitez is a good manager.

"When you start this job you know it's the same every year – if you win you are the best, if you lose you are not.

"I have sympathy for every manager."


City could find themselves 15 points behind United by the time they kick off against the third-placed Londoners.

The FA Cup now looks their most realistic hope for silverware this term but Mancini is not writing off the title and does not view tomorrow's game as a battle for second.

Mancini said: "It's difficult to win all 12 games in a row in the Premier League but we will try.

"Our target is to win the Premier League, not to finish second.

"We want to try to win trophies. Sometimes it's not possible, but it's important our team is always there on the top and fights for the title.

"Sometimes we can do a mistake or sometimes the other team could be better than us. This is possible."

Mancini conceded captain Vincent Kompany's calf injury is taking longer to heal than anticipated and the defender is again doubtful. The Belgium international has missed the last four games.

Midfielder Gareth Barry, who has had an ankle problem, will also be assessed but is unlikely to feature.