City feud stirred as Mancini and Hughes clash

Manchester City 1 Fulham 1

Eastlands

Maybe Mark Hughes harbours more indignation than we know at Roberto Mancini's appointment to the job he was not allowed to finish. Maybe Mancini harbours more concern than we know about the distance left to travel. Either way, the antipathy between the two was all too evident last night as the Italian's half-hearted acceptance of a handshake prompted his predecessor to accuse him of a lack of grace.

Hughes's Fulham side had just compounded the sense that City are heading towards another anxious spring when he extended a hand and, when Mancini refused to look him in the eye on accepting it, he snatched it away. A diplomatic incident then played out, in which Mancini first accused Hughes of the same offence when his City side beat Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage in November. "I heard that he said something but I don't understand. He did the same in London. He should be happy he got a draw against us," he said.

It was petty fare from Mancini, who surrendered the high ground to Hughes. "It's probably my fault again but I'm a little bit old-fashioned," the Welshman contended. "I always think if you offer your hand, it should be accepted regardless of the circumstances. I had to offer my hand and do it with sincerity when my team was beaten 4-1 by Roberto's. On the day I was disappointed obviously but I acknowledged that his team was better and he deserved a handshake with sincerity. Maybe I misread it, but I just didn't think Roberto acknowledged the efforts of my team and how well we'd done today." And of Mancini's comments about Craven Cottage: "I don't recall doing that. I think he's incorrect."

The spat, which left Mancini's assistant David Platt running down the tunnel to play the peacemaker, occurred on the same patch of turf where Hughes ironically waved Arsène Wenger off down the tunnel after he has refused a hand when City put Arsenal out of the Carling Cup in December 2009, then insisting that the Frenchman "doesn't know how to behave."

The real point lay in Mancini's declaration to journalists that "these stupid things" were "probably the best thing in the match." City's performance was so stultifyingly flat that the anxiety beginning to creep around east Manchester is that another Champions League 'knock-out' game with Tottenham – who they face in mid-April – appears on the cards. City have taken five points from five Premier League games now and Mancini is yet to work out how to arrange the £165m of manpower purchased since Hughes left town. Carlos Tevez, a legacy of the Hughes era, is in throes of a dip in form in the past month and no one seems capable of filling the breach.

A week ago, Edin Dzeko seemed to be the ideal strike partner for the captain. Here, Mario Balotelli, starting on the left of a three-man line behind Dzeko, looked marginally better. His first-half goal certainly demonstrated why the City manager has such faith in him. A casual exchange of passes with Tevez and Balotelli was cutting past Danny Murphy into a shooting position. His spatial awareness was superb as, with minimal backlift, he thumped his ninth goal in 11 starts into the bottom left had corner of Mark Schwarzer's net.

There were brief flashes of inspiration after that – a fine second-half pass sent Tevez in for a shot which Schwarzer pushed aside – but Balotelli was more often frustrating and Manini was dissatisfied.

Asked if he was happy with Italian, he said: "No. He scored a good goal but I am not happy. He should play well. Better than today. For the strikers it is important to score. But strikers should also play for the team. Not just for Balotelli, for Carlos and Dzeko."

It was a strong rebuke, no doubt designed to provoke the same reaction that Mancini received from Adam Johnson when he publicly censured him earlier this season. Mancini has been frustrated by Balotelli for some weeks, considering his nonchalant response to a lingering knee injury to be unwelcome. The striker's yellow card for a needless trip on Damien Duff takes him to seven yellows and a red.

"Sometimes players can play badly," Mancini said. "You cannot always play well. But the attitude is always important. If you don't have a good attitude, it is difficult to play with three strikers. If you have three strikers on the pitch, they should work with the team, not only when we have the ball, but also when we lose it. Strikers should work with other players."

All of which explained why the hand he was offered may have not been that welcome. It had been a year and 70 days since Hughes last settled into a Manchester City dugout and there was certainly no local sentiment in the City reception for him. But the team ethic was apparent in the way Fulham responded to his team-talk. The visitors needed only three minutes after the interval to draw level, Andrew Johnson spinning past Aleksandr Kolarov to race on to Brede Hangeland's fine through ball and cross for Duff to strike home first time.

It means Hughes could depart with his head held high. Leaving Mancini behind with all the pressure, there might even have been a part of Hughes that reflected he was better off out of this place.



Booked: Man City Balotelli. Fulham Murphy, A Johnson.

Man of the match Murphy

Referee P Walton (Northants)

Att 43,077

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions