Aston Villa v Manchester City preview: Roberto Mancini warns players he won't tolerate slackers


As last orders approach in the Last Chance Saloon, Roberto Mancini has warned any Manchester City player who does not take responsibility for poor performances that they can leave the club.

Tonight the Premier League champions go to Aston Villa 15 points adrift of Manchester United with their manager arguing that anything less than 11 straight wins is unlikely to be enough. If and when the defence of their title is called off, the recriminations could be bitter.

Given that Villa are desperate for points, at home and will be inspired by the fact that other relegation candidates – Newcastle, Southampton, Wigan and Reading – all lost over the weekend, the concession speeches might come sooner rather than later.

Mancini has already damned City's summer transfer policy that did not deliver any of his main targets and has identified players like Samir Nasri and Joe Hart, who have fallen below his standards.

In this he is unusual among the Premier League's top managers. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger have long maintained a policy of not publicly criticising their players by name, although both can be vicious behind the dressing-room door.

"When I was a player, I always took responsibility whenever I didn't play well. I would say: 'Sorry. I will do my best in the next game' and it should be like this," Mancini said.

"I don't like players who never think it is their fault. These players cannot play for me. It is impossible. I want strong players who are upset when they don't play and who want to show me on the pitch that they deserve to."

As a player, Mancini possessed a rage for perfection that his mentor, Sven Goran Eriksson, said risked exhausting him – "he wanted to be the trainer, the kit man, the bus driver. He wanted everything in place before training". At City, Mancini has been scathing about those footballers whose thinking is less focused.

"I am not rude to my players but I do say what I think," he said. "I think it could be good for my players to understand that they could play better and that they can do more.

"I say this because I am not someone who lies. Sometimes it is important players take their responsibility because when you are a top player, you earn a lot of money and should perform at 100 per cent always.

"I don't criticise my players after every game. It is easy when you have won and everyone is saying: 'well done' or 'you're the best'. Sometimes, that is impossible.

"When you win, like last year, it's easy but when you have a problem you should resolve it. I love all my players and I'll do everything I can for them but I want them to do everything for the club."

As the season has dragged on, it has been clear Nasri has not been "doing everything for the club". His City performances have been every bit as desultory as they were for France in Euro 2012.

Mancini's declaration last weekend that Nasri had given only "50 per cent" may encourage the 25-year-old to return to France with Paris Saint Germain, however tough that might be for a boy from Marseilles.

Mancini argued: "If I am a top player, I want to play well in every game. Samir knows this because I have spoken to him about it. He can do better because he has quality and technique and he is strong. If you have the ability he has, you should be important in every game."

Mancini acknowledged that retaining a title in England is more difficult than elsewhere in Europe. In the last 60 years only five managers have done it – Sir Matt Busby, Stan Cullis, Bob Paisley, Ferguson and Jose Mourinho. Mancini recognises he is unlikely to add his name to that list this season.

"Sometimes, we haven't played with the same attitude as we did last year," he said. "It might be normal and it was for this reason we said it was important to bring in another two or three top players into the team because it is important to add more top players after you win.

"It is difficult to win the championship here. Usually, when you manage a team that hasn't won it for 40 years, you need four, five or six years to win a Premier League. We won the championship after two and it is clear it is more difficult the year after – but we had the chance."

Odds: Home 13-2 Draw 7-2 Away 4-9

Kick-off Tonight, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights Sky Sports 1, 1am, Tuesday)

Team news Ron Vlaar hopes to overcome a calf injury for Aston Villa and Shay Given (groin) is fit, but Darren Bent (foot) is doubtful. Vincent Kompany (calf) is again expected to miss out for Manchester City along with Maicon and Micah Richards (both knee); Gareth Barry (ankle) is fit.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine