Mancini: United are favourites

Despite landing their first title for 44 years with virtually

the last kick of the campaign, Mancini has been frustrated in his

efforts to strengthen City’s squad.

Long-time target Robin van Persie looks set to join Manchester

United, Eden Hazard opted for Sunday’s Community Shield opponents

Chelsea, whilst Daniel Agger, Daniele de Rossi and Scott Sinclair

also remain elusive despite being on City’s radar.

“United start as favourites this year,” said Mancini, ahead of

Sunday’s Community Shield showdown with Chelsea at Villa Park.

“We are maybe in second, third or fourth position.”

Mancini’s irritation is obvious and even though he largely kept

a lid on his frustration, the target is equally clear; sporting

director Brian Marwood.

“I don’t know what I should say in this situation because after

three months, four months, I don’t know,” said Mancini.

“You have to speak to our sporting director, not me.

“I am not happy but I won’t say anything at the moment.”

Mancini’s philosophy is simple.

Following last season’s heart-stopping triumph, City were in the

perfect position to reinforce. Instead, he fears they are standing


“When you win something it is important to improve,” he


“But you should not buy new players 10 days from the end of the

window. It should be two months.

“The championship finished on May 13. You needed to buy players

before now.

“Now it is difficult because there are some teams who can’t sell

their players because they don’t have time to buy anyone else.

“The next 20 days is very difficult in the market.”

Mancini added that any newcomers have missed out on pre-season

work with their new team-mates, although that could also be

levelled at Van Persie if he ends up at Old Trafford.

“If United buy Van Persie it is better for them,” said


“They need a player like Van Persie. He could play for any team

because he is a top player.”

If there is any club who got it right, it is Chelsea, who moved

early for Hazard.

“I am not surprised how much Chelsea have spent,” said


“Probably they needed to buy new players because they lost

Drogba, who was an important player for them.”

Yet the situation is not as straightforward as Mancini would

like to believe.

It is fairly obvious City have the finances to fund any deal.

However, Marwood is having to juggle the demands of meeting UEFA’s

Financial Fair Play regulations.

That is already going to be difficult given the vast sums City

have spent. But with high earners like Emmanuel Adebayor proving

hard to shift, Marwood will not sanction further outlay.

What makes it worse for Mancini that there has been interest in

members of his squad that he does not want to lose – namely Mario

Balotelli, who earned such praise for his performances at Euro


“This summer, we had a lot of requests for him,” said


“Many important teams wanted Mario. Four or five from Italy.

Another from France. This is a sign that he is a top player.

“I didn’t think about saying yes because he is young and we are

sure he can improve and be an important player for the club.”

Mancini does not believe one tournament alone will be enough to

persuade Balotelli to curb his excesses.

However, he does feel his achievements in Poland and Ukraine may

help Balotelli realise how much is at risk if he fails to fulfil

his promise.

“It is true Mario had a fantastic European Championship,” said


“I don’t think he can change his behaviour just because he

played very well at the Euros but it can help him.

“If he understands he has all this quality it will be important

for him to improve his behaviour.”

As Balotelli and David Silva only returned to training six days

ago, they are unlikely to start against Chelsea.

In addition, Gareth Barry and Micah Richards have been ruled out

with abdominal and ankle complaints respectively.

The good news for City is that skipper Vincent Kompany is

expected to shrug off a calf complaint that forced him to fly home

from his club’s Far East tour.