Mancini plays down City dressing room revolt talk
New Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini dismissed claims of a dressing room revolt in the wake of Mark Hughes' departure and insists he has no problem with player loyalty.
When former boss Hughes was sacked on Saturday after the 4-3 victory over Sunderland there were reports a number of senior players, including fellow Welshman Craig Bellamy, leading a protest delegation to chief executive Garry Cook. There were suggestions this could continue with a number of players close to Hughes looking to leave in the January transfer window.
However, Mancini - who did not take his first training session until Monday this week - is happy with the attitude of his squad.
''I thought the players trained very well. I think I have a good team and we have only one problem and that is many players injured,'' said the Italian. ''I have a good relationship with the players. I appreciate some players are close to Mark but that is a good thing for a manager.''
Mancini went on to joke: ''When I go away from Manchester City in 15 years after five Premier League titles and four cups the players will have the same situation with me.''
The former Inter Milan coach also dismissed claims made by Cook this week he had previously been approached by Liverpool when American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were considering the future of Rafael Benitez.
Cook said: ''Do we think that Liverpool just talked to (Jurgen) Klinsmann? I am sure they also spoke to others, and I have no doubt that Mancini was one of them. Of course he would have been.''
However, Mancini said that was not the case, saying: ''Liverpool never contacted me, absolutely. They have a good manager, Rafa is a good manager.''
The ex-Italy international also stuck to the belief he highlighted at his public unveiling on Monday that City can finish in the top four this season. And he was optimistic he could match his feats at the San Siro when he guided Inter to a trophy in his first season in charge and went on to win three Serie A titles.
The comparison between the two Milan clubs - where AC dominated for so long - and City's situation with rivals United was not lost on Mancini.
''It depends (finishing in the top four) but I think so. It is important now we concentrate on Boxing Day's game at home to Stoke and then after that one game at a time,'' he said. ''I think I can do a job and my target, always, is to win. Inter Milan was a good job. I arrived there when they had not won in 18 years and after one year they won the cup and then after that the championship.
''I think I can do the same in Manchester but for this it is important that I work hard and I get to know the team fast.''
The new City boss accepted it would take time for the players to adjust to his methods but felt they could be playing the Mancini way within a month.
''We must work out our defensive problem. A balance to the team is the most important situation but for this we must work every day,'' he added. ''After three or four weeks it will be possible (for them to adapt to his style). I hope the players play well on Saturday and understand my team talk.''