Mancini coy on personnel crisis

Nemanja Vidic is confident he can recapture his best form for

Manchester United following his injury problems, but accepts it may

take a few games.

The United captain initially suffered a serious knee injury

against Basel 12 months ago before requiring further surgery in

September after making five appearances in the early stages of the

season.

He is expected to be involved against Sunderland on Saturday and

the centre-half is ready to play his part in United’s bid to regain

the Premier League title.

“I have worked hard to be the same player again and I have the

determination not to drop the quality of my game,” Vidic told The

Sun.

“There will be pressure. When you play for United you don’t have

time for people to wait for you.

“When I got the first injury I was out for six months and people

were saying ‘Is he going to be the same? ‘Can he play for

United?’

“This is the challenge you have to deal with. But when you have

been out for the best part of a year – after having always played –

I think I will need to go through a few games to get my form back

but I’m confident that I can deal with that.

“Obviously, it’s a challenge for me when I come back, firstly to

be in the same form as I was but also to help the team.

“As someone who has had six years here and, at 31, with some

good years still left to play, I feel a responsibility.”

The 31-year-old is also hoping that he does not suffer a further

setback following the most difficult 12 months of his United

career.

He added: “It is not going to be nice if something happens

again. Definitely you can have that in your mind but once you are

on the pitch you just play and do not have time for that. I have

worked hard with the physios, physically I have been strengthening

the legs.

“It is obviously different playing from the start of the season.

Now I am coming into December and the rest of my team-mates are on

top of their games.

“I am having to come in. But I think I have worked hard and will

manage that.”

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On the day City confirmed annual losses of ?97.9million, and

again privately repeated they had no intention of strengthening

their squad next month even if they fall further behind Manchester

United, Mancini outlined why they might have to.

The Blues chief confirmed he had virtually given up hope of

persuading Yaya Toure to remain in England instead of heading to

the African Nations Cup with the Ivory Coast.

Even Mancini’s belief that Toure will remain until after City’s

FA Cup tie with Watford on January 5 seems a bit optimistic if past

experiences are anything to go by.

Brother Kolo is also expected to be part of the Ivory Coast

squad, whilst Mancini also anticipates young midfielder Abdul Razak

will be called away by coach Sabri Lamouchi for the tournament in

South Africa, which begins on January 19.

But the news gets even worse.

Mancini has also revealed Jack Rodwell has suffered a recurrence

of the hamstring problems that have restricted him to just six

appearances since his summer move from Everton and have already

kept him out for over two months.

“I don’t know,” said Mancini, when asked whether he needed to

strengthen his squad.

“We will have to see what happens when the players are all

recovered.

“I am worried because for us because Yaya is really important

and to lose him for all that time in January will be really

difficult.

“But we do not just lose him. We lose his brother. Probably

Abdul as well.

“Also, Jack has hurt his hamstring again. We need to work harder

with him because he is a good player and a good man. He deserves to

play without a problem.”

Mancini confirmed he was considering whether to send Rodwell to

a specialist to see if City can discover any underlying problem for

a player the Italian was convinced could have a major impact this

season.

If that was bad enough, there have also been reports of dressing

room unrest, specifically rows with both Joe Hart and Mario

Balotelli immediately after the United defeat.

In both instances, it is easy to see why Mancini might have a

problem.

He called for a four-man wall at the fateful free-kick from

which Robin van Persie scored the winner, only for Hart to overrule

him to get Carlos Tevez to mark Wayne Rooney.

And if Mancini’s public condemnation of Balotelli’s inept

display was repeated behind closed doors, the fiery Italian is

unlikely to have been too impressed.

“It is usual for me to talk to the players,” said Mancini.

“Also some times you can have a discussion.

“But I prefer to keep it in the dressing room, not like some

other people who talk outside.

“For me it is not like this. We know where these stories comes

from.”

With skipper Vincent Kompany sidelined for Saturday’s trip to

Newcastle by a hamstring strain and Gareth Barry suspended, it

merely adds to the sense of chaos after Sunday’s defeat, which left

them six points adrift in the title race.

Yet the defeat left Mancini more convinced than ever that City

are actually the better of the two Manchester teams.

“We showed we are better,” he said.

“For 20 minutes they did not touch the ball. They had two

chances and we made mistakes for the first two goals.

“Afterwards, in the second-half, they played with all their

players in their own half.

“I don’t say they were lucky because United are a strong team.

But it is not like it was three years ago when they were

better.

“Now they are not better than us. But they know they had to

defend well for all the second half.”

Mancini is certainly not buying the argument that his team are

inferior to the one which swept all before them in the first half

of last season.

Not even a disastrous Champions League campaign, when his side

picked up only three points from their six games, the worst return

of any English club in the competition’s history, can change that

assessment.

“We have had a good season in the Premier League so far,” he

said.

“We are only six points behind United.”