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'I'll silence critics'

MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini claims to have taken no notice of his recent critics.

The Italian came in for some heavy media flak last week after a loss to Ajax in Amsterdam left City needing a "miracle" -- in Mancini's own words -- to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.

City failed to get out of their group in their maiden Champions League campaign last year, and their latest attempt has been another underwhelming one with just one point gained from the first three games.

And despite remaining unbeaten in the Premier League, the champions have also been below par at the start of their title defence.

With much made of Mancini's ultimately doomed decisions to continually change formation in Holland -- and accompanying speculation that was unsettling players -- the pressure appeared to be growing on the former Inter Milan boss.


But that eased slightly with a hard-fought win over Swansea last weekend and Mancini, who is believed to have held talks during last season about taking charge of Monaco, claims not to have been affected by recent pressure anyway. Mancini said: "I don't read the newspapers. I know my job and I know when I make a mistake or do the right things.

"For this I talk with my club, my chairman and my staff, the other situations are not important."

Mancini has always remained confident in his ability to deliver and famously guided City to title success last season after they had been eight points off the top with six games remaining.

But after what was a first league win in 44 years for the club, Mancini cannot understand where all the pressure and expectation for instant Champions League glory is coming from. He said: "I don't know but maybe there are some that are happy for this, and some others that push for this.

"I don't know who or for which reason, but we are a young club for the Champions League. It could be that we lose some games."

Mancini also points out that for all Ajax's domination, City did lead 1-0 in the Amsterdam ArenA and had chances to score a second before eventually crashing 3-1.

He said: "Maybe we should do better because we didn't play well against Ajax, but when we were 1-0 we had two incredible chances to score the second goal.

"I think in that competition, when you have a chance, you need to score and close the game."

Meanwhile, City are set to bring Japanese wunderkind Hideki Ishige to England to run the rule over the midfielder, his club, Shimizu S-Pulse, said.

However, contrary to Japanese reports, City have yet to make an offer to sign the Asian Youth Player of the year.


The teenager has shone in recent months and has been key to Shimizu's march to the Nabisco Cup final on Saturday, as well as their late surge in the league.

Although Shimizu team manager Afshin Ghotbi wants to keep the 18-year-old within his ranks, he is also keen to give Ishige experience of a spell at City.

"If you want to build top-class players, you have to give them various experiences and opportunities to see first-hand what the world level is about," Ghotbi said. "And what better experience for Ishige than to train with the first team of Manchester City, the champions of England, and have Mancini see him first-hand and train with some of the top players in the world," he said. Ishige is set to spend time with City in January.

The former Iranian national coach said other European clubs were also keen on the teenager.

"There is interest in him, not just Man City but many clubs in Europe and he deserves it. He's a real fantastic talent," Ghotbi said.