Mancini in control as Tevez fades into shadows
Roberto Mancini bore the confident look of a manager who knows he enjoys the full backing of his club's owners -- and who has been informed that Manchester City's power brokers share his anger over 'Benchgate'.
As rival managers such as Alex Ferguson also voiced support, Mancini held court at Carrington, expressing his conviction that he was "in control" and that he had the "good men" in his dressing room to make City successful.
Mancini never once mentioned the name of Carlos Tevez, who has been suspended pending a review into events in Munich.
He did not need to. The Argentinian floated like a ghost through the Italian's conversation.
As Mancini talked, investigators were at work inside Carrington, interviewing a few players before they rush off on international duty after today's game at Blackburn Rovers.
Photographs emerged from training of Mancini and Tevez's compatriot, Sergio Aguero, appearing to have strong words, but City dismissed the suggestion of any more dissent towards the manager.
Mancini certainly cut a relaxed figure.
"I have control,'' he said. "For the manager it is important to have things under control. I have this. I don't have any problems."
For all Tevez's undoubted qualities, City are far less reliant on him since the arrival of Aguero and Samir Nasri and the improvement in Edin Dzeko's form.
This idea that City's dressing room is a haven of millionaire malcontents is a fallacy; open the door and men of good character present themselves like David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Joe Hart, James Milner and Gareth Barry, among others.
"With good men you can build a strong team for the future,'' Mancini said. "This is very important. When you have good men, you can lose some games and it is not important because in the end you can achieve your target -- 100pc. I have good men. I am sure of this."
Good men and a few bad eggs: the story of Manchester City since they struck oil.
However understated, Mancini delivered a bravura performance yesterday. A man occasionally criticised for his strict discipline revealed a more mellow streak.
He has forgiven Dzeko his boot-throwing strop in Munich. As a goal-gatherer of great repute during his distinguished playing days, Mancini appreciates more fully than most the frustration of being substituted.
"In this situation, I'm not disappointed because I can understand every player,'' reflected Mancini. Note the "in this situation". Dzeko's case differed substantially from Tevez's.
So often deified during his illustrious career, Mancini seemed almost intent on underlining his residency among mere mortals. He was human, he stressed, an emotional individual at times.
"We have blood inside,'' he said, "we don't have water.''
In noting Dzeko's apology, Mancini admitted: "Sometimes I can make a mistake and I can apologise to the players. When you work every day you can have some problems, but it is important to resolve them quickly."
A wry humour laced some of his replies. When questions strayed back towards the state of dressing-room morale, Mancini responded with a smile.
"I thought we were on the top of the table, not on the bottom!'' he teased. "I think. I don't know. I think we have the same points with United.''
He rejected the notion of widespread jealousy of City's wealth, of people wanting the club of Croesus to fail.
"I don't think we are in a difficult moment. I don't feel this. We lost only one game (against Bayern).
"Manchester United drew with Basel at home. The Champions League is very difficult for every club, even for those with big experience. With four games left we have many chances to go to the next stage. I don't think we will have a problem."
He was already thinking long term. "I have a contract for this year and another year.
"I try to work always hard. When I finish my contract if the club is happy, we can talk about this.
"I would like to stay here until we have built the new training facility, the Etihad Campus, is due to open in 2015. I would like to see it. I would like to stay.
"When you start to build a new team like Manchester City, you have many chances to win trophies over the next years. To manage a club like City is fantastic for me. It's good. Both me and the club should be happy."
His confidence was unmistakable. Asked whether he hoped the whole Tevez situation would be finished quickly, Mancini replied calmly: "It is finished."
Not really. Not with investigators in the building with the key evidence to come from members of his backroom staff who approached Tevez on the bench. Mancini emphasised that he had endured more difficult weeks -- "at Fiorentina we had no money'' -- and that he was a tough individual.
"I left my home when I was 13, so what do you think?" he said.
City can survive without Tevez. The striker's training-ground parking space was promptly occupied yesterday by another well-known employee. Life moves on. (©The Daily Telegraph)