Rebel without a (yellow) card: Why Mancini falls out with rival managers

As Paul Lambert joins the long list of the Italian's sparring partners, Ian Herbert finds the source of the City coach's touchline tantrums

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The Independent Online

Roberto Mancini has made no pretence of the fact that there's a bit of the devil in him, where respect for managers is concerned. "Instead of reacting like a man and putting some effort into it all, instead of fighting, I used to go and train with a smug look on my face, like some kind of Mr-Know-it-All," he admitted years ago when, as a Sampdoria player, he played the rebel with the new boss, Eugenio Bersellini. But as Aston Villa's Paul Lambert joins Mark Hughes, Arsène Wenger, Fabio Capello, David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Sir Alex Ferguson among those to whom he has caused offence, the truth is Mancini really doesn't much care.

Some continental managers arrive here intent on being a part of the union, getting cozy with the League Managers' Association (LMA). Not Mancini. After he had taken City to their first title in 44 years last season, he might have considered himself the front-runner for the association's manager of the year award. Who did it go to? Alan Pardew. Did Mancini lose sleep? No.

There are very often sparks when the City manager's side have lost and his irritation, late on Tuesday night after a 4-2 defeat by Villa, with Lambert's discussion of Mancini's imaginary flourishing of cards conforms to a pattern. Lambert would not be so bold as to confront Ferguson at Old Trafford, he retorted. "I'm tired of some managers doing this. Maybe they do it because I'm Italian. It's better that they shut up."

We shouldn't be entirely surprised. We learned on the March night in 2010 when Mancini picked a scrap with David Moyes on the Eastlands touchline, that he had retained his competitive playing spirit.

Both Mancini and Moyes were sent off, with City on their way to a 2-0 defeat. There was a making up of sorts, though Moyes reminded us that he "wasn't the one waving imaginary yellow cards around trying to get people booked." That remark was significant, because Mancini's refereeing hand-signals are what so often riles other managers.

The notion of Ferguson feeling scandalised by another manager seeking ways to influence officialdom will raise a surreptitious smile from most managers, but this was the starting point for the bust up which shattered the peace between the two last April, on the night City's 1-0 Manchester derby win took them a big step towards the title. The two managers were nose to nose at one point that night. Mancini "was badgering the officials all game," Ferguson complained. Mancini's eyes lit up when he heard that one. "He doesn't talk with the fourth official?" he asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "The referee? Never?"

There's not even been a pretence of friendship with Capello. "We are from different generations," was Mancini's diplomatic encapsulation of that relationship.

The anger has generally emanated from north London, where Mancini's vexed relationship with Wenger is concerned. Wenger despises what he feels Sheikh Mansour's City stand for and the fact that half his old team has taken a shine to playing for them.

Hughes will never care much for Mancini, who took his job at Eastlands, but the Welshman has a thing about the post-match handshake, which sparked things off when his Fulham side were in town.

Mancini thinks he knows who the judge is – the clue is in the prayer beads which were in his pocket when victory over Hughes' Queen's Park Rangers clinched the title for City.

With Sir Alex Ferguson among those to whom he has caused offence, the truth is he doesn't care

Maicon has revealed Roberto Mancini is working hard to tighten Manchester City's defence after a slow start to the season. "The manager doesn't like conceding goals and he's very passionate about that and he's already working on that," the Brazilian right-back said. "Our focus is on improving that and improving the team's results as soon as possible."