Mancini scoffs at pressure talk

Roberto Mancini emerged from the Manchester City maelstrom
insisting pressure will never be a problem following his experience
at Inter Milan. After successive goalless draws and amid
allegations of negative tactics, Mancini was being lined up to take
a hefty tumble at the hands of former City boss Mark Hughes at
Craven Cottage yesterday. Instead it was Hughes left with egg on
his face as three first-half goals set the Blues on their way to an
impressive 4-1 win which leaves them just a single win adrift of
Premier League leaders Chelsea. Mancini could be forgiven for
breathing a hefty sigh of relief following Carlos Tevez’s double,
which sandwiched strikes from Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure. But
the Italian, who celebrates his 46th birthday on Saturday, remains
completely detached from all the talk, supremely confident in his
ability to fashion a winning team from his expensively-assembled
squad and secure in the knowledge that, after Inter, nothing will
compare. “Journalists continue to say I am under pressure. I am not
under pressure,” he said. “When you have worked for Inter Milan for
four years it is impossible to be under pressure. “They are one of
the top teams in Italy and one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“When I went there, they hadn’t won anything for 25 years. “I was
under pressure every day with people demanding to know, ‘when will
Inter win? When, when, when?’ “But I stayed four years, which is a
big record for a manager there.” As Mancini also won three Serie A
crowns and created a dominance that continued through the Jose
Mourinho era, he feels secure in knowing which way is best for
City. Hughes did not even get 18 months despite repeated assurances
from the club’s cash-rich Abu Dhabi owners. But, even in an era
when City have more spending power than any of their rivals – and
are paying more out in wages than their present turnover – Mancini
is wary of trying to move too quickly. “It is impossible to build a
house from the roof down,” he said. “You must start with the
basement. Now, maybe we are on the second floor. We have time but
we must continue to improve.” Depending on the size of dwelling
Mancini has in mind, City are either getting close to the top, or
only at the start of construction. The same sentiment could be
deduced from their last two results. Mancini might claim City
created 17 scoring opportunities in the second half alone against
Birmingham last weekend but most people who were at Eastlands
struggle to recall them. Yet his side were as good yesterday as
they were bad a week earlier. Their dominance of possession after
Tevez’s well-taken opener offered no way back for Fulham, who were
then blitzed by those quick-fire goals at the end of the opening
period. City did not force the pace too much after half-time, but
then there was no need for them to and now they can look forward to
a different kind of examination at Stoke next Saturday – when Pablo
Zabaleta will be missing through suspension – with a huge degree of
confidence. “We have had a couple of good performances but this was
one of a very high standard,” admitted defender Vincent Kompany.
“When we came in at half-time we said this is the standard we have
to expect from ourselves now for the whole season. “There is not
one minute of this season that we want to play at a lower level
than we did at Fulham. Maybe we won’t achieve it but if the team
shows this mentality it is a good thing. “Who knows where we go now
but the ambition of any team in the top six should be to compete
with Chelsea and Manchester United and there is no reason to
suggest why it would not be possible.”