Mancini in the firing line as Santa Cruz makes his Rovers return

By Neil Johnston
Saturday 15 January 2011 01:00

Roque Santa Cruz became the latest discarded Manchester City player to aim a swipe at Roberto Mancini after completing a move back to Blackburn.

Eighteen months after leaving Rovers for Eastlands in an £18m deal, Santa Cruz has returned to Ewood Park on loan for the remainder of the season. Yet, Santa Cruz has become so disillusioned with life at City that he is already talking up making his temporary spell at Blackburn permanent.

"To be fair, I wouldn't like to go back. I never got a proper chance to play – three minutes here, five minute there once in a while," said Santa Cruz, who has not played a Premier League game from start to finish since last February.

"That is the reason I have not been feeling appreciated and expressed my willingness to leave to get that going. When you train well and put in all the effort to be part of the team and deserve the chance to play week after week, you expect your chance but that never came. In that sense I have been ignored. Of course,[Mancini] needs to bring the players he brought in, but there were chances where I could have played but he chose not to play me. I had quite an open relationship with him but he always expressed his opinion that I was not part of his plans. The manager chooses who will play and who will not, and once he came he told me clearly I would not be part of his programme."

Santa Cruz, who scored 23 times in 57 league games for Blackburn between 2007-09, is not the first player to criticise Mancini after falling out of favour. Stephen Ireland, Craig Bellamy and Benjani have all been critical of the Italian, who has also endured an uneasy relationship with Carlos Tevez.

Santa Cruz is manager Steve Kean's first signing since he took charge of Blackburn last month, and is likely to be on the substitutes' bench when Rovers face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge today.

Kean was offered the chance to join Chelsea's coaching staff when Luiz Felipe Scolari was in charge in 2008. He was assistant manager at Coventry, but declined the invitation as he felt the timing was wrong. "Phil wasn't there for very long and that was unfortunate for him and probably fortunate for me," said Kean. "I would probably have left at the same time as Phil and I don't know where I would have been."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments