Mancini wary of Chelsea threat

A statue of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been
unveiled under the stand bearing his name at Old Trafford.

Over 2,500 people attended, including former United greats Sir
Bobby Charlton, Peter Schmeichel, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole,
Denis Irwin, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edwin van der Sar and Eric
Cantona.

And Ferguson’s wife, Lady Cathy, stood next to her husband as
she unveiled the new statue on Friday.

“Normally people die before they have a statue. I’m outliving
death,” joked the United manager to the crowd.

“It is an incredible journey I’ve had at the club. I have
managed so many great players and some of them are here today.

“They should actually build a statue for all of them. They have
been fantastic players to have.

“I have been very privileged to deal with such great players
from 1986 through to today. They have given us all enormous
pleasure.

“We all have a part to play, the manager, all the coaches and
the medical staff. They have also played their part.

“I am really proud today. It is a fantastic honour. I would like
to thank the Manchester United directors, owners and all the people
involved in this decision.”

Sculptor Philip Jackson said: “I’ve tried to portray him as a
man of great determination and as a thinking man, but also with
humour which he has in abundance, so there’s just a slight smile in
the corner of his mouth.

“That’s really what I wanted to portray.”

The Premier League leaders travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday
at the end of a tumultuous week for the London club.

Chelsea sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo in midweek and
installed Rafael Benitez as his replacement after a series of
damaging results.

The Blues had gone four Premier League games without a win
before a loss to Juventus in the Champions League, which left their
European title defence hanging by a thread, and proved the final
act for Di Matteo.

The club have also received further criticism after the Football
Association dismissed their allegations of inappropriate language
against referee Mark Clattenburg.

Mancini said: “I am very sorry for Di Matteo because he won the
Champions League three or four months ago (actually six) but this
is our life.

“When we make this choice (to become a manager) we know it can
also be difficult. It is difficult for him, (but) this is the
manager’s life.

“Usually when one team changes a manager the game after for the
opponents is very difficult. For us, I think it is more
difficult.

“Chelsea is a good team with Di Matteo and will be a good team
for Benitez. They have good players.

“Until three games ago they played fantastic football and were
on the top.”

Chelsea began the month on top of the league and were widely
praised for their attacking quality.

At the same time City were struggling to reproduce the
swashbuckling form which carried them to the title last season.

But Mancini’s men – on the domestic front at least – have
managed to keep grinding out results and they remain unbeaten, four
points above Chelsea.

City were also unbeaten ahead of the corresponding fixture last
season but were beaten 2-1 in what was their 15th game of the
campaign.

Mancini said: “Chelsea is one of the best teams in England, in
Europe, they (have) won everything in the last 10 years.

“Playing against them in London is always a good game. To win
there would be important for us.”

City are also hoping to bounce back from their own European
disappointment having been eliminated from the Champions League
following a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid on Wednesday.

City had needed to win to maintain any hope of progressing to
the knockout stage but were unable to find a winner after
recovering from a goal behind.

Mancini claims the blow was not so devastating because he had
already been resigned to such a fate after poor results in previous
games.

He said: “I reflected after Ajax, not after Wednesday night.

“It was finished, it was really difficult to go to the next
stage. We did our mistakes before this game, not in this game.

“We should be passionate for Champions League (again) after this
year. This is football.

“In the Champions League, if you do a mistake in the first two
games, it is difficult to recover.

“We can’t change this now. We can’t cry for this. It is easy to
be strong when we win every game but we should be strong when we
can’t win or we can’t play Champions League in February.”

City also failed to get beyond the group stage last season and,
after failing to win any of their first five games this time,
Mancini expects lessons to be learnt.

He said: “By this situation we can improve as a team and as a
club.

“It is clear we are disappointed because we have players who
deserve to play in Champions League. Together we made some
mistakes.”

Mancini again defended his tactics after deploying his
controversial 3-5-2 formation against Real.

The Spaniards tore City’s defence apart in the opening half hour
and unfortunate to only claim one goal before Mancini reverted to
back four.

The Italian said: “You always talk about three or four but when
we conceded one goal, we were five against two in the box. It is
one individual mistake.

“You cannot concede a goal when you are five against two in the
box. We need to work on this.”

The backbone of City’s defence, captain Vincent Kompany, is
facing a fitness test after suffering a knee injury late in
Wednesday’s game.