MANCHESTER - Manchester City
manager Roberto Mancini has a striker conundrum to solve before
the club make their Champions League debut on Wednesday and if
he gets it wrong he will have his dad to answer to.
The Italian said the man who has been his biggest critic and
fan would be at the Group A opener against Napoli when wealthy
City will be hoping to translate sizzling domestic form into
evidence they can challenge for Europe's top club honour.
"When I played he was criticising me every time but this is
important because if your father says these things then it's
true and for me it is important to improve always," Mancini told
a news conference on Tuesday.
City have made a storming start to the Premier League
season, winning all four games and scoring 15 goals on the way.
They were even able to drop striker Edin Dzeko at the weekend
despite him having scored four goals in the previous game.
Dzeko was not missed as Sergio Aguero netted a hat-trick
against Wigan Athletic to make it six goals in four games.
Such is the depth of talent at City thanks to the owners who
have spent more than 600 million pounds building
a squad, that Mancini frequently has a bench worth more than
some smaller teams' starting XI.
That could well be where last season's golden boy Carlos
Tevez finds himself on Wednesday as having missed a penalty
against Wigan he may make way for Dzeko and Aguero to start.
While he would never say it, the fact that Mario Balotelli
is suspended for the next three European games does at least
narrow down his choice of strikers to three for two spots.
He saw the funny side of his luxury position, laughing when
asked if the fact that Aguero had scored three goals at the
weekend meant that he would now be dropped.
"We decide tomorrow after the last training session what
we'll do," he said. "But I think if you have three strikers like
Carlos, Edin or Sergio I think that it is difficult to make
It is players like those three, who have all played in the
Champions League before, that Mancini points to as one of the
reasons why City will handle their debut well.
"We have players with a lot of experience, a lot of our
players have played in the Champions League, I don't think we
can have pressure for this game," he said.
"I think this is normal for us because now Manchester City
is one of the best teams in England and Europe I hope, for us it
will be very important to do very well our job in this group and
our target is to go into second stage."
Indeed, the only real evidence that City were not old hands
in Europe's elite club competition was the marquee erected at
the club's Carrington training ground that served as a news
conference room as the regular one was too small.
As Mancini glanced nervously at the billowing roof as the
structure creaked from the winds, the only other issue of
concern was the tough group City have been drawn in with Bayern
Munich and Villarreal the other two clubs.
"Four teams can win the group," said Mancini, who was
delighted to be coaching in the Champions League for the first
time since 2008 and that his return was coming against team from
"It's a special moment," he said.
Midfielders Gareth Barry, who has an ankle injury, and James
Milner, who had a clash of heads against Wigan, will have late
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