x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mancini teases about Manchester City future

The Manchester City manager is looking to the future, and wants to 'stay here another three or four years', with his present contract to expire in 2013.

Roberto Mancini calls David Silva, centre, 'one of the best players in Europe or in the world'.
Roberto Mancini calls David Silva, centre, 'one of the best players in Europe or in the world'.

MANCHESTER // Management is about balancing objectives in the short, medium and long term, but while his focus is on Villarreal and Sunday's Manchester derby looms large behind it, Roberto Mancini is also gazing deep into the future.

They are times he hopes to spend at the Etihad Stadium.

"I would like to stay here another three or four years because I think that Manchester City is one of the best clubs in the world," the Italian said.

His current contract expires in 2013 and, while talks about an extended deal have not begun, a smiling Mancini is unworried. "I don't have a problem with this," he said.

Yet, should he add a winner's medal from the Premier League to the FA Cup he already possesses, his standing in his native Italy will rise still higher.

"After May I go home," he said, looking forward to his summer holiday but promising to return.

Of more immediate concern is one of the pivotal weeks of City's season. While they top the Premier League, theirs has been a spluttering start in the Champions League.

Two games have produced a draw, against Napoli, and a defeat, to Bayern Munich. Mancini has set a target of nine points from the remaining four matches and said that City could yet progress to the last 16 as pool winners.

"If we beat Villarreal everything can change for us," he said.

"If we win, we can win the group, also. It is possible."

Results matters more than performance now.

"It is not important if we play well," he said. "It is important we win this game."

Yet, while Mancini spoke the language of pragmatism, he had the purist's hero sat to his right. David Silva's form has earnt high praise, not least from his manager.

"I think that Silva is one of the best players in Europe or in the world," he said. "Silva can play for Real Madrid, for Barcelona. He is an incredible player. Here, he has improved a lot in two years. I saw him for the first time in the Champions League seven or eight years ago, when Inter played Valencia, and it was incredible."

The Spaniard was grateful for his manager's endorsement. "Now, in my second season, I feel even more settled, and I am very happy, on and off the field," he said.

The former Valencia winger is well equipped to assess Villarreal and spoke highly of the team who prop up the group.

"They are a great side," he said. "They like to keep hold of the ball and pass it around, but they can also hit you on the break. We need to get those three points because if we don't get them there is going to be some distance between us and the teams at the top." City's defeat in Munich three weeks ago was soon overshadowed by the furore about Carlos Tevez's alleged actions in the Allianz Arena.

Nevertheless, it provided a lesson to the newcomers on this stage; for all their individual experience, collectively, this is a side venturing into Europe's elite competition for the first time in 43 years.

"I think we need to learn," Mancini said. "Bayern played better than us. They deserved to win."

He will be without his in-form forward as Mario Balotelli completes a European ban, but Sergio Aguero should be fit after an abductor strain.

"I've resumed training with the team and it felt great," the Argentine wrote on Twitter. "Can't wait to play a real match again. Hope it's Tuesday's face-off."

It is a welcome boost ahead of the meeting with Manchester United. First, however, City must dispose of Villarreal so that Mancini's Mancunian odyssey can progress apace.

sports@tenational.ae


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