Mancini warns City stars they must 'take responsibility'
As closing time approaches in the Last Chance Saloon, Roberto Mancini has warned any Manchester City player who does not take responsibility for poor performances that they can leave the club.
The Premier League champions begin their match at Aston Villa tonight 15 points adrift of Manchester United, with their manager arguing that anything less than 11 straight wins is unlikely to be enough. If and when the defence of their title is called off, the recriminations could be bitter.
Given that Villa are desperate for points, at home and will be inspired by the fact that other relegation candidates – Newcastle, Southampton, Wigan and Reading – all lost over the weekend, the concession speeches might come sooner rather than later.
Mancini has already damned City's summer transfer policy, which did not deliver any of his main targets, and has identified players like Samir Nasri and Joe Hart, who have fallen below his standards.
"When I was a player, I always took responsibility whenever I didn't play well. I would say, 'Sorry. I will do my best in the next game' and it should be like this," Mancini said. "I don't like players who never think it is their fault. These players cannot play for me. It is impossible. I want strong players who are upset when they don't play and who want to show me on the pitch that they deserve to."
As a player, Mancini possessed a rage for perfection that his mentor, Sven Goran Eriksson, said risked exhausting him – "he wanted to be the trainer, the kit man, the bus driver. He wanted everything in place before training".
At City, Mancini has been scathing about those footballers whose thinking is less focused.
"I am not rude to my players but I do say what I think," he said. "I think it could be good for my players to understand that they could play better and that they can do more." (© Independent News Service)
Aston Villa v Manchester City,
Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0