Mancini rues number of City absences

Mancini rues number of City absences

Published Jan. 16, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini claims only Barcelona could cope with the huge number of absences he is dealing with at present.

For a variety of reasons, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany all missed the midweek Carling Cup defeat to Liverpool.

Kolo Toure was absent too, while Mario Balotelli was replaced before half-time after aggravating an ankle problem.

Of that quintet, only Silva is likely to make tonight's trip to Wigan, when City look for a win that would re-establish their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League.


And while Mancini is receiving little sympathy for his plight given the vast amount of money that has been lavished on his squad over the past two years, the Italian is adamant only one side could successfully overcome the problems he is faced with.

"Maybe Barcelona could. Manchester City no," he said.

"In four or five years, Manchester City probably yes. But not now.

"When I said one month ago that December and January would be the crucial months it was because I know football.

"Every year in every squad you have one difficult moment. At the moment we are not strong and we have lost important players, so it is difficult."

It is why midfielder Gareth Barry believes all eyes will be on the Blues at the DW Stadium.

The weekend results have turned it into a top-versus-bottom clash.

But Wolves were in exactly the same position when they ended Manchester United's unbeaten run last term and, with Wigan drawing at home against both Chelsea and Liverpool recently, Barry knows better than for City to take anything for granted.

"This is the time when people will really be watching us, to see how we respond to this sticky patch," he said.

"If it means going there, not playing great football and battling to get a victory, we might have to do that.

"You can't dominate the whole league playing fantastic football and winning every game easily. Sometimes you have to battle and scrape a result in the last minute.

"Wigan is set up for that sort of game. Everyone in the dressing room has to roll up their sleeves and be ready to do it."

Barry recognises Wigan are a strange side, who lost eight games in a row at one point before mounting a spirited revival in what appeared to be an immensely difficult run of fixtures.

Even in there were vast swings in form. Unlucky not to claim maximum points against Chelsea, yet hammered by Arsenal and Manchester United either side.

The Latics beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, but were badly beaten on home soil by the same opposition five weeks later.

"Wigan are a funny sort of side," said Barry.

"On occasion they can really perform but sometimes they roll over.

"It's a game where we have to concentrate on ourselves and perform to our highest ability because if Wigan play their best game it will be tough.

"Their manager likes to play a bit of football and they have players with some flair who will try to take the game to us."

With Kompany serving the second game of his four-match ban, Montenegro defender Stefan Savic is set to continue in central defence even though the 21-year-old looked ill at ease as he squared up to Andy Carroll last week.

Mancini could opt to play stand-in skipper Micah Richards alongside Joleon Lescott, with Pablo Zabaleta at right-back.

However, it is a measure of how depleted his squad is at present that Mancini has even put Nedum Onuoha's proposed move away from the Etihad Stadium on hold.

"Now he is here because we need him for two or three weeks until Vincent comes back," confirmed Mancini.

"After that there is a chance he goes because that would be better for him."

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez claims City can't be considered a great side until they have a cabinet full of trophies.

City visit the DW Stadium on Monday night and though Martinez says they are title favourites, they are still a way off the likes of Barcelona.

Martinez said: "As a team what measures you as a good or a bad team is achieving things and winning titles.

"What Manchester City has done has been phenomenal. I know money has been important but to get a team out of the individuals is where the difficulty lies.

"They can win any competition they go into, and they have done a remarkable job but only time will tell how good they can be.

"Barcelona probably five years ago were in a similar situation, showing good signs.

"But you can only be measured as a great side when you win titles and that's probably the exciting times ahead for Manchester City because they are showing they have everything in place to win trophies."

Martinez said City are now reaping the rewards of Mancini's long-term planning with the Italian first having made the side difficult to beat, before making them into a dominant attacking force.

He added: "Roberto Mancini had a massive impact as soon as he arrived. He knew the Premier League through his spell at Leicester and he had achieved huge things in Italy.

"He's a special manager from a tactical point of view and he's someone who has always had the long-term planning of what he wanted at Manchester City.

"They were a very solid team, very hard to break down at the beginning, and then he added the attacking options that has made them one of the attacking forces in the Premier League.

"It's fascinating to see how he had that structured plan in his head and how he has developed that."

Martinez has midfielder Mohamed Diame absent on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal but winger Albert Crusat is back in contention after a couple of weeks out with a back injury.

Young striker Callum McManaman could be on the bench after impressing in the FA Cup defeat at Swindon.