Mancini pleads with City stars to give up drink

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The Independent Online

It was as Roberto Mancini's playing career was drawing to a close that he first discovered the English attitude to alcohol, during an afternoon in a Leicestershire pub.

Nine years on, the player is a manager – yet the drinking culture has not gone away. Mancini, the Manchester City manager, has already held a heart-to-heart meeting with his young players to spell out the dangers of excesses off the pitch.

Yet his pleas to change their ways appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Joe Hart, who was photographed earlier this season during a 5am party in Spain before joining up with England for their Euro 2012 qualifier with Montenegro, has been caught out again.

This time, the goalkeeper was joined by Shay Given, Adam Johnson and Gareth Barry as they let their hair down at a party in Scotland during what was meant to be two-day golf break at St Andrews.

Such drinking sprees are a world away from Mancini's days in Serie A. The problem for him is that he can't take any disciplinary action against the group, with the quartet failing to break any curfew or club rules given Manchester City's non-involvement in the Carling Cup.

"I don't understand it [this sort of behaviour]," Mancini said. "The last incident was on Monday and that was a day off so the players can do what they want, but I don't understand why they have chosen this and I am unhappy about it.

"When we are playing every three days the players need to know it's important they recover well between games. But this is not a problem only for us, it is a problem for many British players; it's a cultural thing.

"I read that Aston Villa had the same problem. I repeat, I want to solve the problem in the dressing room because here is not good."

Mancini could respond by banning his players from nights out to prevent any off-field activities. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp did the same at the end of last season, baffled by his player's behaviour. He imposed an alcohol ban because he found it hard to accept his players' ways of unwinding.

Yet it's not just the drinking revelations that have occupied Mancini's thoughts this week: he has also had to battle dressing-room unrest following Roque Santa Cruz's attack on the club.

Now his captain, Carlos Tevez, has returned to Argentina, citing a family problem to go with his thigh injury which rules him out of the game at Wolves today. "At this moment he can't play so he asked permission to go to Argentina," revealed Mancini.

"It's important he can recover and will be available for the next game. He went to Argentina because he must solve some family problems for three days but he will continue treatment there with the Argentinian [team] masseur.

"I don't know his family situation. We haven't discussed it in detail and I don't want to go into this situation. It's normal when you are in another country for a long time, that you miss your family and you country. But his job is here."

While Mancini continues to battle against the issues that arise with having a squad of well-paid players, there is the small matter of a Premier League trip to Molineux to contend with.

The recent crushing defeat to Arsenal, which wasn't helped by a fifth-minute red card for Dedryck Boyata, was a reality check amid the revolution. "We want to win every game if we want to challenge for the title," added Mancini. "Against Wolves it will be the same. If we show the same attitude we showed against Arsenal we will win.

"I was happy with my players; I think the attitude after going down to 10 men indicates we will have a fantastic season. In another two months, if we went down to 10 men again, I think we would win the game."

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