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Mancini rubbishes Zenit job link

Roberto Mancini has denied that he will leave Manchester City to become Zenit St Petersburg's next manager.

• Blog: Why the fans do it

Reports in Russia suggested Zenit wanted Mancini to replace his fellow Italian Luciano Spalletti at the big-spending club.

Zenit spent £64 million on Hulk and Axel Witsel last summer but are only third in the Russian League and were knocked out of the Europa League by Basel on Thursday.

But the City manager, who signed a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium last summer, joked about the cold in St Petersburg and insisted he is not going there, saying: "It is absolutely not true." Mancini also launched into a vehement defence of English football as, for the first time since 1995-96, the Premier League failed to provide a Champions League quarter-finalist.

City were knocked out in the group stages, along with defending champions Chelsea, while Arsenal and Manchester United went out in the last-16.

But Mancini believes that the league's strength can be assessed by clubs' performances in the continent over several seasons and said the unpredictability of the Champions League is one of its assets.

He added: "When I hear this, these are stupid things. It is impossible to win every year. Don't say now English football went down because last year Chelsea won the Champions League. English football has three teams in Europa League quarter-finals.

"For three or four years, English teams can win or go in the final [of the Champions League] and one year, maybe other teams can do better than English teams.

"It is like in Italy, we win one game and we are the best team in the Champions League. We lose one game and it is disaster. This is football. If the same teams win every year, football would be like other things. Instead, football is before this because every game can change, every year a different team can win."

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