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Apr 11, 2013

Keegan bemused by Mancini exit rumours

Former Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan believes speculation about the future of current manager Roberto Mancini is unruly, insisting the Italian should be rewarded for the success he has brought the club.

• Curtis: Brave blue battlers
• Jolly: Blue Moon begins ascent

Mancini led City to the 2011 FA Cup - ending a 35-year trophy drought - which was followed by the club's third league title a year later.

City head into Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea with the 48-year-old's future reportedly reliant on results in this season's remaining matches, although advancing to the final would lift a burden off the manager's shoulders.

Despite City's failure to defend their league title, Keegan insists Mancini should be celebrated, not criticised at the Etihad.

"In any other sport it would be ridiculous to question someone who has gone into a football club, won the first trophy in 30-odd years, then won the league in the most exciting season ever," said Keegan, speaking at the Soccerex Conference in Manchester.

"Europe was a disappointment, but Europe was disappointing for Manchester United and Chelsea. You get that. You can make stories around them all you want. Is it right? No. Can it happen? Yes. But I don't think there should even be a question of anything happening to Mancini."

Mancini's pre-season signings have also been condemned, with recruits Maicon, Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair having little impact during this campaign.

"The media can say that it hasn't worked because he bought five players and they didn't win the title," Keegan added. "That looks like they've taken a step backwards but some of those players might be a lot better next season.

"Players get judged purely on the football field but they've got to get their families over here, get settled and, in certain cases, learn the language. Mancini will want to make more signings this summer to keep everyone on their toes. But (Yaya) Toure has just signed for another four years and he's a key player."

One of Mancini's defensive additions, Matija Nastasic, has been touted as a long-term replacement for captain Vincent Kompany by Keegan.

"I really like him," he said. "He has come in and played as if he has been there for ever. That Mancini put him in for his debut against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu tells you everything you need to know about him.

"In five or six years time you could see him developing into a Vidic. He could become even bigger than Vidic, who has probably been the best centre-half in this country for the last five or six years.

"The big test will come next season when people have had a good look at him. They will try and find out what he is not good at and where his weaknesses are. I haven't seen too many at the moment."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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