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Mancini not so cool now as heat is on

ROBERTO Mancini is clearly beginning to feel the heat. Midway through the second half of Manchester City's second defeat in seven days, their debonair manager discarded his scarf and designer coat, exasperated, perplexed and seeking answers. How can the West Midlands feel this warm during winter?

An hour later, after City were left with fewer points after 10 games than either of his most recent predecessors -- Sven-Goran Eriksson and Mark Hughes -- had amassed on their way to the exit door, Mancini was still at a loss to understand how his side could subside into their worst 45-minute performance since he took charge.

He could explain his disrobing, however. The outer layers had to go "because I was hot and because I was angry. For me, it was impossible to play like we did in the second half".

After trips to Poland to face Lech Poznan in the Europa League on Thursday, and back to the Black Country to play West Brom on Sunday, Mancini's seat could be intriguingly hot come the derby with Manchester United a week on Wednesday.


Emmanuel Adebayor and Vincent Kompany rowed with each other on the pitch as Wolves rallied on Saturday and reports emerged yesterday that James Milner and Yaya Toure had been at each other's throats during the previous defeat by Arsenal last Sunday. What price team spirit?

Mancini maintains Chelsea should win the Premier League title and if City allow many more opponents to press them into submission, the title race will become academic for the Italian.

But as he was quizzed on whether the introduction of Mario Balotelli had disturbed his team's shape, or whether Yaya Toure had failed to fulfil the holding role as well as Nigel de Jong, Mancini kept returning to why he was so bemused at how his team had fallen away so badly.

City were markedly superior for the opening 20 minutes, when Balotelli could have marked his first start with a hat-trick before Adebayor converted a penalty.

Wolves were then allowed to take charge with goals from Nenad Milijas and David Edwards before deservedly withstanding City's late rally to win fair and square.


City missed De Jong's sharpness in protecting the defence and, of course, Carlos Tevez at the top end of the pitch. Wolves were the better team. Committing only five fouls in the entire 90-plus minutes on the day that Karl Henry, their captain, returned from suspension, Mick McCarthy's team proved that they can win clean. Most fair-minded neutrals knew that anyway and performances recently have been better than results, but Saturday epitomised Wolves at their best.

With a starting XI that cost £17.5m -- the visiting team's substitutes alone cost four times as much -- they did more than outmuscle City.

"We passed the ball quite well and played our game at a high intensity, in terms of closing down," Stephen Hunt, on his first home league match for Wolves, said. "I wouldn't say we outbattled them, we just covered more ground than them on the day."

©The Times, London