Mancini calls time on drinking culture after Hart's heady cocktail
Sunday 17 October 2010
The next time Joe Hart wants to celebrate, his manager advised him to seek out a woman rather than a bottle of Malibu. Pictures of the England goalkeeper standing on a table celebrating a stag-do with coconut liqueur and pink champagne left Roberto Mancini shocked – and not just because of the awful combination of drinks.
To the Manchester City manager it represented the kind of drinking culture he is determined should be stamped out in the Premier League. Last month Mancini warned Hart's England team-mate, Adam Johnson, after he appeared at a charity auction and paid £12,000 for a date with the model Katie Price.
"I have spoken to them. It is private what I said but it is much better that they go with a woman rather than drink," he said, tongue presumably in cheek as Hart has a long-standing girlfriend.
"It does not happen in Italy. The players do not have this culture of drinking after a game. It is so different but I understand it is part of the English culture and it is not easy to change. Johnson and Joe are young; they are playing in the England team and they must change."
Following Manchester City's narrow 2-1 win over Newcastle which featured a dressing-room confrontation between Mancini and Carlos Tevez, Hart and the City midfielder Gareth Barry left for the stag-do at Puerto Banus on the Costa del Sol.
At Lineker's Bar, which is owned by the brother of the Match of the Day host, Hart was photographed partying hard 36 hours before joining up with Fabio Capello's England squad for the turgid goalless draw with Montenegro.
"It is very frustrating because I don't understand this," said Mancini. "I don't understand why a player must drink after a game. Maybe one drink is OK but three, four, five, six...drinking until they are drunk? That is no good."
Mancini's brief time at Filbert Street nine years ago should have given him some indication of what to expect. "One day, when I first started at Leicester, I went with my team-mates after training and we all went to a pub and the 10, 12 of us drank I don't know how many beers." And in 2001 taking photographs with your mobile phone and posting them online was in its infancy.
"These players are young now but when you are 28 or 29 you pay the price," he said. "I don't know if you remember Pietro Vierchowod at Sampdoria but he played until he was 40 at 100 per cent. Javier Zanetti at Inter is 39 but he is still their best player because he has had a good period in his life.
"Maybe players do not last as long in England because of the culture but I think it is also hard when you play every three days, and if you don't have good behaviour off the pitch it will be difficult."
Mancini adeptly defused the confrontation with Tevez by pointing out that it was quite normal in every walk of life to have rows with your boss. He dismissed suggestions that his captain might walk away from the game with the observation that if there was one thing the Argentinian was born to do, it was to play football.
Mancini said it was unlikely that Tevez's future at Eastlands depended on Manchester City winning a trophy or qualifying for the Champions' League. "It depends on Carlos," he said. "He is a striker, he is the best player. If he scores, if he plays well, then we have more chances to win. I repeat: we have a good chance (of winning trophies).
"But Carlos does not play alone. He has his team-mates. If he plays with a good mentality, that will be easy. If we have the mentality that 'I am the best player and I am playing with players who are no good', then no."
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