Mancini exhorts competitive atmosphere

Mancini exhorts competitive atmosphere

Published Aug. 19, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

Attracting players to Manchester City is not proving too difficult. Accommodating them in the team is more troublesome for manager Roberto Mancini after an emphatic start to the season.

Despite only just returning from the Copa America, Sergio Aguero made an immediate impact on his City debut Monday, when the Argentina striker scored twice in a 4-0 victory over Swansea.

But with David Silva and Edin Dzeko also scoring, another attacking force, Mario Balotelli, never came off the bench.

And such is Aguero's potent start to life in England, Carlos Tevez could struggle to return to the starting lineup if no club comes in to buy the Argentina striker, who has submitted a transfer request.


It has presented Mancini with a quandary over team selection going into Sunday's match against Bolton, which matched City by beginning the season with a 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers.

''(Playing) Silva, Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko, Balotelli - it is difficult,'' Mancini said Friday. ''I think probably during the games there will be some moments when we can try to put all these players on the pitch, but it is difficult and we have to have a good balance for the team.

''All these players are professionals and it is important that they are not happy when they don't play. If there is a player who is happy when he doesn't play, this is not good. They must be ready.''

But competition for places could be about to get even fiercer, with Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri set to complete his move to City before the transfer window closes on Aug. 31.

''I hope we can close it very quickly now,'' Mancini said. ''I don't know why (there is a delay), but it is probably because Nasri is a good player, or because there is some problem.''

Just miles away...

While City's Abu Dhabi owner Sheikh Mansour has been funding the signing of established talent, across Manchester, United manager Alex Ferguson is trying to develop a new youthful side.

The start to the season was far from convincing, though, with a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion coming courtesy of an own goal after an error from United's new goalkeeper.

''David De Gea will learn from the experience of the games he's had so far,'' Ferguson said ahead of Monday's match against Tottenham. ''It's a very young team at the moment, but it's a team full of energy and it's a team of great ability. I'm enjoying watching them at the moment.''

There was mixed injury news on Friday for Ferguson.

Captain Nemanja Vidic's calf injury - sustained against West Brom - is worse than first thought, with the defender now facing up to five weeks on the sidelines.

But central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand could return from a hamstring injury for the Aug. 28 match against Arsenal.

For Monday's game, center backs Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will start, while Chris Smalling with take the place of injured right back Rafael da Silva. Patrice Evra returns from injury on the left and, at 30, is set to be United's oldest player.

''I'm not worried about the young players filling in at the back,'' Ferguson said.

Liverpool and Arsenal clash

The first match of the weekend is at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday at lunchtime when Liverpool will be looking to end a run of 14 away matches at Arsenal without a win.

Both sides started the season with draws, but it has been a tougher week for Arsenal.

Gervinho's sending-off at Newcastle on his debut was followed by captain Cesc Fabregas' departure to Barcelona, manager Arsene Wenger being accused of breaking a UEFA touchline ban, injuries to defenders Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou and a suspension for Alex Song.

Song and Gervinho have both been banned for three matches following their fouls in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

''Maybe we're due for a win,'' Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said. ''But it is not going to make it any easier for us because they have lost Fabregas, Nasri is unlikely to be playing and they have a couple of suspensions. It will still be a difficult game for us.''