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Dec 22, 2009

Cook: Mancini prioritising defensive problems

Roberto Mancini will be seeking searching answers to the reasons behind Manchester City's defensive weaknesses as he begins to stamp his own image on the squad left to him by Mark Hughes, chief executive Garry Cook has told ESPN Soccernet.

• Cook defends City conduct

Having invested heavily in defenders, including £22 million for England centre-back Joleon Lescott, £16 million for Arsenal's Kolo Toure as well as £12 million for left-back Wayne Bridge, the club have been leaking goals of late - a factor that contributed to the downfall of Hughes.

Mancini will be paying special attention to defensive issues and will turn to the club's enormous financial resources in the January transfer window if the problem is more profound than originally thought.

Chief executive Gary Cook has told ESPN Soccernet that despite the club again being linked with a string of new players, Mancini has not yet made up his mind about his transfer targets, although he is focused on stemming the flow of goals conceded by the club.

Cook said: "Having spoken at length with Roberto, there is a determination from the new manager to find the solutions to the defensive problem.

"We're all concerned that the team have conceded a lot of goals of late. Is it bad luck? Is it the possibility that the team have not been organised well enough? Is it down to the individuals? Of course, we do have injuries so it won't be that easy to assess, and we don't have a lot of time. That is something for the manager. All I can tell you is that Roberto believes he can get a lot more out of the players he already has."

"I am sure he will have a view after a week or ten days and then we shall talk at greater length. There is an odd sort of assessment about what actually happens at this football club, and who chooses the players, who signs them. I would think it is very much the same as most clubs. We have a group who sit down to discuss the manager's report and act accordingly, as simple as that."

City have been linked with all manner of players since Mancini's arrival, including Inter Milan youngster Mario Balotelli, defender Maicon, Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini and Sampdoria's controversial striker Antonio Cassano.

Cook expects Mancini to continue City's extensive investment in their playing staff in January, particularly given Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor will be departing for the African Nations Cup.

"I have no idea yet what Roberto will want in terms of new players," Cook said. "He will assess the current squad over the next ten days and couple of games and then I am sure he will come to us with some ideas - whether he wants to strengthen in January - but I would imagine with the African Nations and some injuries, it is certain he will want some new players."

A source close to Mancini, and who has known him for many years, believes that the new manager will already be well advanced in the process of making his assessment of the City players.

The insider revealed: "Roberto has spoken to [Sven-Goran] Eriksson, [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Gianfranco] Zola as well as others he knows in the Premier League. He will have already got a dossier on all the players. There are some of the players linked to him that I know he will like but he will give everyone a chance at the club.

"Someone like Lescott, for example, will need to prove themselves to Roberto, as will all the players. If there are defensive weaknesses, then Roberto will sort them out."

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