Belfast Telegraph

Mancini warns players ahead of Manchester derby

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has warned his players about the need for cool heads at Old Trafford tonight.

Ahead of the Carling Cup semi-final decider with Manchester United, both the Football Association and Greater Manchester Police have issued their own warnings.

Sir Alex Ferguson does not feel the need. But Mancini does.

With his side nursing a precarious single-goal advantage, the Italian knows every advantage must be taken if the Blues are to book their first Wembley cup final since 1981.

So, while he has no doubts his players will behave, a last-minute warning to them all, including Carlos Tevez, will be administered.

"I have spoken to my players," confirmed Mancini.

"This is normal because we must stay calm.

"If we don't we can have a problem. It is so important to think about the game, about our tactics.

"We must concentrate. That way we can play better."

Mancini has been with City for barely a month.

Yet even in that short time he cannot fail to have picked up the naked desire to be part of England's top table again.

No other perceived big club has been absent for so long. Twenty nine years since a cup final, 34 since a trophy, as signified on the banner that hangs down from the Stretford End and ticks over each year the City trophy cabinet remains bare.

"We must change the history of this club. We want to change the history," declared Mancini.

"The players are passionate about it. But we must start somewhere," he said.

"It is important to get to that first final. After that we want to win it.

"But we have two opportunities. After this one we have another in the FA Cup, although obviously this one is a big chance to get to Wembley because it is a semi-final."

At Eastlands last week, Mancini seemed to adopt a typically Italian mentality to such matters, taking off forwards and introducing more defensive-minded players as the clock ran down.

Yet he insists the attitude tomorrow must be positive. And that means going forward.

"We don't want to go to Old Trafford only to defend," he said.

"It is possible we will have to defend if United attack. Then we will need to defend very well because they have so many good players.

"But we want to win, not just the tie, but at Old Trafford. To do that we must attack."

Although clearly upset for Emmanuel Adebayor over his truly horrific African Nations Cup experience, he is secure enough in the Togo man's mental state to promise him a place on the bench at Old Trafford.

Adebayor has yet to make an appearance under Mancini, having been injured when the former Inter Milan coach replaced Mark Hughes just before Christmas.

The last time Adebayor played a competitive game was that abysmal defeat at Tottenham on December 16 that sealed Hughes' fate.

That knowledge accounts for Mancini's reluctance to name the former Arsenal striker in his starting line-up.

The opposite is true of Kolo Toure, who will be checked tomorrow morning after flying back from Angola in the wake of Ivory Coast's surprise quarter-final exit to England's World Cup opponents Algeria.

"It could be a problem because Kolo only played three days ago," reflected Mancini.

"I hope Kolo can play but I understand it is possible he could be tired when he arrives."

Mancini does not look like the kind of person who will get himself in a flap about such issues.

As a player with Sampdoria and Lazio and then as a coach with Inter, the 46-year-old is used to derby confrontations.

And wherever pressure is applied tomorrow, it will not be on him.

"I don't feel pressure," he said.

"I played football for 20 years and I managed at other clubs.

"I hope it is possible that in the next year we can be among the best five or six clubs in the world.

"But for this we must work. We cannot make mistakes.

"And if I want to change the tactical situation during a game it is important I have a clear head."

Belfast Telegraph


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