Savic confident of filling gap

Savic confident of filling gap

Published Jan. 12, 2012 1:16 p.m. ET

With Kolo Toure away on African Nations Cup duty with the Ivory Coast, Savic has been thrust into the limelight following Kompany's failure to overturn a four-match suspension.

It is a lot to ask of a player who only turned 21 this month and has started just one Premier League game since his £6million arrival from Partizan Belgrade in the summer.

The early signs were not encouraging in Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool as Savic struggled to cope with Andy Carroll, then caught Daniel Agger with a clumsy challenge that even Roberto Mancini accepted warranted the spot-kick from which Steven Gerrard won the game.

However, Savic did improve after the break, which City can only hope will continue. The Montenegro international will be required to play alongside Joleon Lescott at the DW Stadium on Monday when the Blues head to Wigan.


And, more importantly, Kompany will still be banned when Tottenham head to the Etihad Stadium on January 22 looking to wipe out City's three-point lead at the top of the Premier League before completing his suspension by missing the return leg against Liverpool at Anfield three days later.

"When you are replacing someone like Vinny, everyone expects a lot from you," Savic told City's official website.

"He is our captain and our leader. But I think I can do it.

"The first half was difficult and the tackle for the penalty was a bad decision from me.

"But after that we came back into the match and had some chances and we still have a chance to go to the final."

It almost feels like actually booking another Wembley appearance is merely a side issue for Mancini just now.

In fairness to the Italian, even as his team were tearing through the first half of the campaign, he kept preaching caution.

Mancini knew the departure of Yaya Toure to the African Nations Cup was going to create a potential problem.

The fact that it has coincided with Kompany getting sent off against Manchester United and both David Silva and Mario Balotelli sustaining ankle injuries has just made the situation worse.

It probably explains the City manager's furious reaction to Glen Johnson's tackle on Lescott late in Wednesday night's game, which did not even merit a booking from referee Lee Mason and triggered the tunnel bust-up with Gerrard.

That the pair subsequently spent time talking quite amicably suggests Mancini's anger was temporary, yet it is now, after three defeats in four games and one win in five, that the former Inter Milan boss needs to show the greatest calm.

"In the first half we were poor, in the second half we played very well," he said.

"We had the chances to score but didn't. We were unlucky. That is it.

"At this moment it is difficult. But it is important to stay strong and not change anything."

Indeed, when he reflects on the game, Mancini may come to the conclusion his side have been granted a reprieve by the increasingly negative tactics of Kenny Dalglish.

If Liverpool had continued to attack as they did to such great effect in the first 15 minutes, the Merseysiders might well have been out of sight, so poor were City on Wednesday night.

As it is, the Blues still have a chance, even if they have to go back to 1981 for the last time they won by two goals at Anfield, the task required of them in a fortnight.

"We were unlucky," said Savic.

"But I think our strikers will be on fire in the next game."