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Mancini hails Johnson for perfect response

For all the high-priced African, Balkan and Latin footballing talent in Saturday's Manchester City team, it was a relatively low-budget Englishman who supplied the highlight of the 3-1 win that kept them five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

With Wolverhampton Wanderers pressing for an equaliser against City's 10 men, Adam Johnson, signed from Middlesbrough in February 2010 for £7m, produced an almost nonchalant curling shot into the bottom corner from 30 yards.

Arguably as significant was the sight of the England winger winning a challenge in his own penalty area soon afterwards. He is reported to have been upset by criticism of his all-round game from City manager Roberto Mancini after last Wednesday's Carling Cup tie between these teams, but Mancini was delighted to see Johnson make his point here and vindicate his own "tough love" approach.

"I'm happy that he is upset," Mancini said. "I'm happy because he can improve. I love Adam. It's like with children, if you love your children then sometimes you should be hard with them. If he was not a good player, then I wouldn't waste my time to do this. Because he has everything, I don't want him stopping at this level. I want him to go up a level, then a level more. He could become one of the top wingers."


Mancini revealed that his opinion is shared by England boss Fabio Capello.

"We know he is an incredible player but a player like him should play very well every game, like David Silva," he said. "One versus one he is incredible, every time he takes the ball near the box wide then we can score a goal or have a chance. Today, when we went down to 10 men, he went on the right and defended very well against (Matt) Jarvis. He did well. But he can improve every month, every week, every day."

Johnson's strike nailed down three points after Wolves had got back into the game with a penalty conceded by Vincent Kompany, who was sent off and will miss Saturday's visit to QPR.

First comes a Champions League challenge away to Villarreal. Like Carlos Tevez, Saturday's opening goalscorer Edin Dzeko had problems with Mancini in the defeat away to Bayern Munich, but he has thrived since.