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.”