Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini didn't pull his punches last night as he warned Edin Dzeko that he would need to "improve very quickly" after the £27m striker missed a sitter in this Europa League last-32 tie.
Mancini may have expressed sympathy for Dzeko over the difficulties that come with settling into new surroundings, but the Italian made it abundantly clear that he expects the Bosnian, who joined City from Wolfsburg only last month, to raise his game sooner rather than later.
"I expect more from him," said Mancini, who fielded his strongest team so far in the competition.
"I think that he has the same difficulty that Fernando Torres has at Chelsea, because when you arrive in January to join new team-mates and a new system it is not easy, but it is important that he improves very quickly."
Dzeko had a green laser beamed into his face by Aris fans in what Mancini described as "typical", but he was decidedly off-beam when he fluffed his lines in the 15th minute after being played in by Aleksandar Kolarov.
"It was a difficult game but maybe it would have changed if Dzeko had taken that chance," added Mancini. "We should have scored and you win this game if you score one goal.
"It is not the perfect result -- 1-1 would have been better -- but in Manchester it will be a different game and a different pitch."
After seeing Joe Hart -- Shay Given was, once again, left sitting on the bench -- pull off an excellent save to keep out Darcy Neto's long-range effort, Mancini threw everything bar the kitchen sink at Aris Salonika, but City were unable to celebrate making a little bit of history in this Europa League tie.
For the first time, Mancini simultaneously deployed all four of his £100m worth of strikers as he went in search of a first win by foreign opponents in 40 years at the raucous Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium.
When Mancini sent Mario Balotelli into action to join Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, who was uncharacteristically quiet, and David Silva to halt this game drifting towards a draw, it was the first time City's so-called 'Fab Four' had worked in harness.
The trick did not work, however, and Dzeko was withdrawn from the firing line to cap a frustrating evening for the visitors.
City will be overwhelming favourites to book a place in the last 16 and a tie against Besiktas or Dynamo Kiev when this contest is concluded tomorrow week, but Mancini is not getting carried away. "I think that 0-0 is dangerous," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)