Infighting doesn't bother Mancini
Roberto Mancini has moved to play down the infighting that has plagued Manchester City's season, insisting it happens in every team and even to himself "four or five times" before.
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Mancini has fined four of his players - Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng - over two separate training pitch incidents while Mancini's own pitchside spat with Carlos Tevez earlier this season was also highly publicised.
But City boss Mancini does not believe his club should have a reputation for dressing room unrest, claiming the sometimes physical disputes are borne from "creative tensions" and that he was not particularly bothered by the feuds.
He said: "We have fined them because we know we mustn't behave like this but we also know that sometimes it can happen. We fine the player, the player pays and in the end all the money goes to charity - but it can still happen again. It's never serious, it starts and finishes in two minutes and in the dressing room afterwards everything is finished. Creative tensions. That's why I'm not worried.
"I was a player myself and I understand why these things can happen. It's always for stupid things, nothing serious, and the important thing is that afterwards it's finished. It's happened with me about four or five times but always, after the fight, everything was finished. It happens in every team. The difference here is that we don't have a big wall at the training ground."
Meanwhile, Mancini has told his players to ignore the fact they will go top of the Premier League by beating Wolves on Saturday. Victory over Mick McCarthy's battlers will allow City to leapfrog neighbours Manchester United and increase the pressure ahead of the Red Devils' key trip to Tottenham on Sunday. Yet Mancini is anxious not to spend time bothering about that. All the Italian cares about is where City are at the season's end.
"We should not think about it,'' he said. "We should only think about our games. The season is very long and we have another 17 matches to play. The table could change every three days, so we must focus only on Wolverhampton, nothing else.''
Mancini's assessment is understandable. Along with Liverpool and Chelsea, City have already been one of Wolves' high-profile victims this term. By taking points off all the established big four, plus Tottenham this term, City have proved they are good enough to challenge for the biggest prizes. But, as Mancini acknowledges, that is only part of the battle.
"If you beat all these teams, the ones like Wolves, Blackpool and Aston Villa and draw against those like Chelsea and United, you win the title. But it is not easy. The problem comes when you meet a team that, in your head, you think are easy. Against Arsenal, United or Chelsea, you don't need to remind yourself to concentrate. You are there a week before. But if you think a game is going to be easy, that is when you lose. It happens here and in Italy. There is no such thing as an easy game.''
Mancini is pondering whether to hand a debut to £27million new boy Edin Dzeko. With three matches in a week coming up and the 24-year-old slightly rusty, having not played a competitive game since the start of the German winter break in mid-December, he may start life as a City player on the bench. More certain is that the Bosnian's arrival is set to release Roque Santa Cruz from his personal torment, and probably Shaun Wright-Phillips, who has been eased out of the first-team picture since Mancini's arrival.
"If an opportunity for either of them to play came up, then it would be better for them,'' said Mancini. "Probably Roque will go to Blackburn in one or two days and Shaun has two or three options.''