Roberto Mancini insists Adam Johnson is heeding his advice, despite the Manchester City winger's complaints about a lack of first-team action.
The irritation is compounded by the fact Johnson is now an established figure in Fabio Capello's England squad and made another 45-minute appearance in Wednesday's defeat to France.
However, Mancini does not feel Johnson's words are a sign of friction between the duo.
The Italian is convinced his £7million capture from Middlesbrough last January is learning some valuable lessons about being a top-flight star.
"He is listening to me. Why not?" Mancini said. "I repeat what I said one week ago, one month ago and when we bought him. Adam has everything needed to do his job very well.
"But he must play well and work hard. He is a good player, but he is young and can improve a lot.
"Every manager can say these things. When you play football you must have a good private life. You must work very hard if you want to become a strong player."
Mancini wants Johnson around because he feels the winger can be an integral member of a team that reaches the Champions League and ends City's 35-year wait for a trophy next year.
"We are in fourth position, three points behind United, but we must check at the end of the season," Mancini added.
"At the end of the season I think we will get into the Champions League and probably we will win something. This is my opinion because I believe we have improved a lot."
The spectre of Hughes lingers over Mancini's work, not least because he was clearly talking with City before there was actually a vacancy.
Not that Mancini defends himself against such accusations. He merely points out the brutal reality of life at the sharp end.
"This is our life, a manager's life," he said. "Today you can be here. Tomorrow you can be at another club.
"If a manager does not accept this, he doesn't do his job. The world is full of football managers."