Roberto Mancini slaps down Joe Hart for criticism of team after defeat to Real Madrid
Roberto Mancini urged Joe Hart to "stay in goal and make saves" after being angered by the goalkeeper’s claim that Manchester City were to blame for their dramatic 3-2 defeat by Real Madrid.
Goals by Karim Benzema and former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo in the final three minutes enabled Real to overturn a 2-1 deficit to claim a Champions League Group D victory against the Premier League champions in the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mancini blamed City's late collapse on a lack of “courage” in their play in the closing stages, but despite the Italian appearing to echo Hart’s criticism of the team’s performance, he bristled at the post-match comments of the England No1.
Moments after the final whistle, Hart said: “We blame ourselves. We don’t credit Real. They are a very good team, but we got a lead twice and lost it.” Although Hart’s comments were echoed by scorer Edin Dzeko, Mancini was quick to condemn the keeper’s remarks.
“Joe Hart should stay in goal and make saves.” Mancini said. “If anyone should criticise the team it should be me, not Joe Hart. I am the judge, not Joe Hart.”
Hart had made a string of important saves to deny Real in the first half, but he was at fault for Benzema’s 87th-minute equaliser and also culpable for Ronaldo’s 90th-minute strike – which hit the back of the net after captain Vincent Kompany ducked out of the way of the shot.
But having taken the lead through Aleksandar Kolarov’s 85th-minute free-kick, Mancini insisted that his players contributed to their own downfall by sitting back on their lead. “I don’t want us to continue to defend like this, and we did a mistake like that.” Mancini said. “When it was 2-1, we should have continued to play high like we did in the second half.
“We wouldn’t have conceded if we hadn’t been so deep. We should have had more courage at this time.
“It’s difficult to take, but not because we lost. You can lose against a team like Real Madrid, especially in the Bernabeu, but it’s difficult to take because with three minutes to go we were 2-1 up.
Asked why Kompany ducked for third goal, Mancini said: “I don’t know. I saw the goal but you need to ask Vinny. Usually he doesn’t do that, but the mistake was we went too deep. I saw the goal, but I haven’t asked him why this happened.”
Having exited the Champions League at the group stage last season despite amassing 10 points, Mancini insisted that City can recover from the defeat in Madrid and qualify for the knockout stage. “We have international players, we can improve and we should be disappointed that we have lost this point,” he said.
“But other teams will lose here. We have five games and it is important that we beat Borussia Dortmund in the next game. It will be difficult because Dortmund are a top team, but we want to go through.”
Mark Ogden, Telegraph.co.uk