There are better individuals to receive a telephone call from in your first day in the hot seat at Manchester City – but Sven Goran Eriksson, who managed Roberto Mancini at Lazio, happened to be one of the first on the phone. "Sven called me yesterday," Mancini revealed. "He was very happy for me and told me City is a fantastic club."
Perhaps Mancini did not push Eriksson on how it feels to know you are sacked a month before the end of a Premier League season, having achieved the European target set by the owners. He certainly has the air of one who will not allow the turbulence of City to affect him greatly.
He gazed into space as his chief executive did what he could to defend Mark Hughes' sacking, then had a glint in his eye as he conveyed his own experiences. "My job is a manager," he said. "I stayed with one club, Inter, for four years and I won seven trophies. At the end of the season they sacked me. Sometimes you can be with a club for many years, but I don't want to look back." Neither was he averse to mentioning the elephant in the room. "I am sorry for Mark. But when you start these jobs, this kind of situation is always possible."
There are signs that the languid manner also includes tolerating interference from the owners in transfer acquisitions. And whatever doubts City fans might have about Mancini's ability to take them further on their journey – his reputation as "one of the best Milan managers in 30 years" as Garry Cook put it yesterday is undermined by the fact that two of his three scudetto victories were won with some of the toughest competition relegated by a match-fixing scandal – his appetite for the British game is unmissable.
His was a funny grounding, four games at Peter Taylor's Leicester early in this decade after his friend Gianlucca Vialli had said he would love it, but he lived the dream in surprising ways. "I lived with Robbie Savage for a month, I took him to an Italian restaurant and introduced him to pasta, because he didn't know about it," Mancini recalled. "People have said I don't have any Premier League experience as a manager, but I did play for Leicester 10 years ago and I've watched a lot of English games on television. I have been living in London and seen a lot of games."
There are signs that he is ready to pick up where Hughes left off as far as Sir Alex Ferguson is concerned. "Sir Alex is a big manager who wins lots of trophies, but we want to do better than Manchester United," Mancini said. "Manchester is the same as Milan. The weather is the same and you have two big clubs fighting against each other."
Mancini believes he has done enough to stem the revolt over Hughes' departure from Craig Bellamy, who has indicated he wants to leave. "After today, Bellamy will be OK. This situation is normal. When I played 25 years ago I loved my manager, but he eventually left and this is the same situation." Mancini also indicated he likes to play with two strikers and should not be typecast as an Italian intent on defence alone. "I can do a good job here, to work hard to bring this club success. I always play attacking football," he said. "When I played, I always wanted to attack. That is the most important thing. When your team play well, in the end you win."
The question is how long will he be given? Mancini insisted the targets being set were his own but you sense he is sanguine enough to take whatever fate awaits him. "If you manage in Italy, living with pressure is the norm. So that won't be a problem."Reuse content