Premier League

Mancini: Tevez needs more time

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Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes it will be another 10 days before Carlos Tevez is back to his best.

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After six months out following his major fall-out with Mancini and the City hierarchy, Tevez came off the bench to inspire a 2-1 comeback triumph over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.

With City trailing for the first time on home soil this season through Gary Cahill's deflected opener, Tevez was involved in the early stages of the attack that brought the hosts level thanks to Sergio Aguero's penalty.

Five minutes from time, the Argentinian was a central figure in City's winner, playing a deft through-ball which Samir Nasri touched past Petr Cech.

"Carlos is not 100% but that is normal," said Mancini.

"But he knows the football. That was important because he did an incredible assist for Samir.

"What happened with him finished one month ago when Carlos came back and everything was finished.

"I have spoken to Carlos every day in the last month.

"He knew he would be on the bench today and would probably play for 20 minutes.

"If he can find good form in 10 days that would be important for us.

"Now it is important for him to play some games, for us, him and his future."

Nasri has clearly not been as much trouble as Tevez.

But the former Arsenal man has flattered to deceive at times this term.

However, he was capping his best performance of the season when he struck to reduce Manchester United's lead at the top of the Premier League to a single point.

But his manager feels Nasri is capable of much more.

"Samir did well but he can do better," said Mancini.

"He can improve. He is a top player. If he plays like this he can be like David Silva or Xavi if he plays."

City's late fightback allowed them to claim a record 20th successive Premier League home win.

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Mancini is not interested in that statistic though. All he cares about is ending the season as number one.

"I don't think we have played well in the last three or four weeks," he said.

"Until then we have played fantastic football. Afterwards it has been so-so. Maybe after tonight something can change."

Mancini said he hoped skipper Vincent Kompany would recover from a calf strain in time to face Stoke on Saturday but Joleon Lescott has already been ruled out with a hip complaint.

Chelsea's first defeat under Roberto Di Matteo is a blow to their hopes of securing a top-four finish to squeeze into next season's Champions League.

"It is a setback for us but we look forward to the future," said Di Matteo.

"Two weeks ago we were seven points behind third place, now we are six.

"We need to look at these things because we are going in the right direction.

"We showed we can match the best teams in this league."

Di Matteo had no complaints about the handball decision that went against Michael Essien that allowed Aguero to equalise.

And he defended his decision to select Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba, even though the £50million Spain striker did not look too impressed to be replaced by the Ivorian in the latter stages.

"I just thought that for the dynamic of the team it was going to be the right decision," said Di Matteo.

"No player is happy to be taken off but there is absolutely no problem with that."

Di Matteo confirmed full-back Branislav Ivanovic had been replaced in the first half because of a "tight muscle" and would be assessed in the morning.

TITLE RUN-IN

Manchester United - Pld 29 Pts 70 GD +46

Mar 26 - Fulham H
Apr 2 - Blackburn A
Apr 8 - QPR H
Apr 11 - Wigan A
Apr 15 - Aston Villa H
Apr 22 - Everton H
Apr 30 - Manchester City A
May 6 - Swansea H
May 13 - Sunderland A

Manchester City - Pld 29 Pts 69 GD +50

Mar 24 - Stoke A
Mar 31 - Sunderland H
Apr 8 - Arsenal A
Apr 11 - West Brom H
Apr 14 - Norwich A
Apr 22 - Wolves A
Apr 30 - Manchester United H
May 6 - Newcastle A

May 13 - QPR H
 

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