James Milner: 'I don't need Mancini to tell me if I've had a bad game'

 

As his own severest critic, James Milner said he did not need Roberto Mancini to point out whether he had played badly. Footballers are notoriously thin-skinned creatures and many in the Etihad's home dressing room cannot have been expected to take their manager's very public criticism of them well.

Last week Mancini said that any of his players who did not accept responsibility for poor performances could leave the club. Milner is unlikely to be among them.

"Personally, I set higher standards than anyone and don't particularly need anyone to tell me when I've played badly or not had a good game," he said. "The manager has got his own style. If, in the past, he's been critical, that just inspires you more to prove him wrong."

Milner is 27 and has been playing top-flight football for 11 years and under as many managers. Mancini may stand out as one of the hardest to please.

"He's up there. He is very hands-on, he knows what he wants his players to do," he said. "The good things are expected, it's the bad things you get pulled up on."

When it comes to dealing with footballers, Mancini does not respect reputations. At Internazionale, he lost patience with Luis Figo and fell out with his boyhood hero, Roberto Bettega. Managers, especially leading managers, are several times harder than most sportsmen. Kieron Dyer once recalled how even the sainted Sir Bobby Robson could reduce him to tears.

"I didn't play too long for Bobby but he was fantastic with me," said Milner of the man who took him to Newcastle, "probably because I was such a young player at the time.

"Fabio Capello was pretty intense, he could really lose his top at times but there was a lot you could learn from him."

Such as? "It is hard to point out just one thing. But having played for so many managers, what I can say is that you tend to pick up one good thing from each of them."

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