Monday 22 January 2018

Mancini has desire to lay down City foundations

Ian Herbert

Roberto Mancini has still not laid down roots in Manchester.

He was house-hunting again on Thursday, but if and when he finds a place there will be little financial commitment. He will rent rather than buy.

"The Italian football people are always like this. They don't commit to buying houses," said a friend of the Manchester City manager who accompanied him on his search for a property.

However, Mancini's temporary accommodation reflects the world of uncertainties that City has come to be for the players and staff who move there, painfully aware that there is always plenty of Abu Dhabi dirham around to buy replacements for them if needs be.

It is about 18 months since south Manchester property developers were first struck by the inquiries they were receiving from new City players who would rather pay the £10,000 a month that they are laying down in rent than buy a home of their own.

Even Shay Given, whose future looks relatively secure, still rents -- as does Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Carlos Tevez.

"There seems to be a lack of certainty. It's different with the Manchester United players -- all of them have bought," said one developer who has provided houses for players of both clubs.

No one can blame Mancini for a tentative approach to the property market as he heads into the most critical five-day period of his five-month City tenure, with the visits of Aston Villa today and Tottenham on Wednesday likely to decide which of the three clubs makes the fourth Champions League place. Mancini has a way of using his uneasy grasp of English questions to make every difficult question seem like a surprise to him, as when he was asked this week whether he will be at Eastlands next season.

"Yes, yes. I hope," he said. "I have a contract -- I think this is true?"

But with talk of Mrs Tami Mourinho house-hunting in Alderley Edge currently the most popular urban myth in Manchester, you might have expected a cast-iron assurance by now that fifth place does not spell the sack. That is something Mancini has not received.

"I don't decide this," he said. "I have a contract and I can decide training, the players, but I think that the other things are decided by the owners."


So far, those owners have tried to make their footballing decisions a numbers game.

Abu Dhabi's pre-season target for City was 70 points and, when Mark Hughes approached the halfway mark in the Premier League slightly short of that, he was on his way.

He had collected 29 points from 17 games at that stage: 1.7 points per game -- an accumulation rate which, had it been maintained to the end of the season, would have left City on 65 points and with a sixth or seventh-place finish, judging by the current table.

Mancini has taken 34 points from 18 games -- only a marginal improvement, but 1.88 points per game, which would have taken City to 78 and a near certain third-place finish had they been collecting at that rate all season.

The qualities of an anorak cannot help the Abu Dhabis decide who to start next season with as manager, only a broader understanding of what is needed to create some stability which they can build upon, a point Mancini used in defence of his job.

"I think all managers need time," he said. "In Italy, it's too difficult because if you don't do a good job in the first six months or one year, it's difficult because they sack all the managers every six months.

"I think at Manchester City it's different. I think we have a fantastic chance to become a very important team next year if we build, if we work hard and if we have time. I (haven't) bought players (yet); I (haven't) built this team.

"I think that every manager wants this. For this I think it's important that I (am given the opportunity) to build a team. I can work in pre-season; working for one year is better because you have worked with the players for longer and get to know the other players better."

The Italian's willingness to let Robinho leave the club, having substituted him as a substitute at Goodison Park in January, and his reluctance to tolerate negativity from Tevez, are part of a deliberate strategy to demonstrate that Eastlands is not a gravy train.

It is why Mancini's willingness to discuss Tevez at such length on Thursday was significant: he is very adept at stonewalling questions he does not wish to answer.

Taking the Argentinian striker on is risky, given his 22-goal contribution to the league campaign, but without showing his strength City will risk becoming a squad of highly- paid individualists and will never assume the "winning mentality" Mancini declared was a necessity on his first week in the job. (© Independent News Service)

Manchester City v Aston Villa,

Live, Setanta Ireland, 3.0

Irish Independent

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