Roberto Mancini has criticised Manchester City for leaving it until the final three weeks of the transfer window to conduct their summer business and warned that it leaves them at a disadvantage in the Premier League title race.
The City manager singled out Brian Marwood, the club's football administration officer, as he complained yesterday that they are out of the reckoning to sign Arsenal captain Robin van Persie. City are the only club in the Premier League who have not signed a player this summer.
Tomorrow in the Community Shield game at Villa Park, they face Chelsea, who have spent more than £60 million (Dh344m) on Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar.
Mancini, who is also interested in Liverpool defender Daniel Agger and Swansea City winger Scott Sinclair, argued it will now be harder to buy before the transfer window closes on August 31.
"I think you should buy players not 10 days from the end but two months from the end," he said. "The championship finished in May so you need to buy players earlier. Now is difficult also because the other teams that want to sell their players to bring in other players but it is very difficult."
Mancini believes it is beneficial to give signings more time to get used to their new club.
"You need a pre-season for this," he said. "You need to bring in new players to get to know their new teammates also."
While City were champions for the first time in 44 years last season, Mancini said that after a summer of inactivity, their local rivals are the team to beat this time around.
"I think [Manchester] United start as favourites this year," he said. "We are maybe second, third or fourth."
Van Persie is the reigning PFA and Football Writers' Footballer of the Year after a campaign in which he scored 30 league goals for Arsenal. Mancini has admitted defeat in his summer-long pursuit of the Dutchman.
"Because we have 20 days until the end of the market," he said. "I don't think we have any chance of this. I don't know because you need to speak to Brian [Marwood]."
Old Trafford remains the likeliest destination for Van Persie and Mancini expects the Arsenal captain to flourish in United's colours.
"It is better for them because I think that they need a player like Van Persie," he said. "He can play for every team because he's a top player."
Belgium midfielder Hazard was another target until he completed a £32m move to Chelsea and, instead of joining City, he could make his competitive debut against Mancini's side.
"He's 21 and he will be a top player in the next 10 years but Chelsea took him one month ago, so it's finished, we can do nothing," he added.
Mancini was not surprised to see the Champions League winners invest and said that every winning team should use a position of strength to buy.
"Probably they needed to buy new players but also because every team, every year can bring in one, two or three players," he said. "When you win it is important to bring in new players, young good players for the future."
One who he hopes has a bright future is Mario Balotelli and Mancini has rejected offers for his compatriot, hinting that Paris Saint-Germain, who spent €65m (Dh292m) on Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, joined the Serie A giants among the bidders. "There were four or five teams in Italy and France," said the Italian.
Balotelli and David Silva, who only returned to training this week after featuring in the final of Euro 2012 for Italy and Spain respectively, are likely to be on the bench against Chelsea while Mancini will decide today if captain Vincent Kompany is fit to feature after suffering a calf injury on the club's pre-season tour of Asia.
However, Micah Richards and Gareth Barry are definitely both out and while the right-back should return for the start of the Premier League season next week, the midfielder's groin problem is more of a concern.
"Hopefully in three or four weeks we can recover Gareth," Mancini said. In Barry's absence, Nigel de Jong is set to partner Yaya Toure in the centre of midfield.
City have not won the Community Shield for 40 years and were beaten last year by United, courtesy of Nani's injury-time winner.
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