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.