Grumpy Mancini wants the purse strings loosened
COMMUNITY SHIELD:ROBERTO MANCINI’S apparent inability to get on with the people above him is threatening another political battle behind the scenes at Manchester City, with the title-winning manager making it clear he blames the club’s transfer negotiator, Brian Marwood, for their inability to sign any of their summer targets.
City go into the Community Shield against Chelsea tomorrow as the only top-flight club not to recruit a single player, in complete contrast to their previous spending under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi United Group.
Mancini is particularly aggrieved they have not done more to extract Robin van Persie from Arsenal and believes there could be telling consequences.
“I think [Manchester] United start as favourites this year,” he said. “We are maybe second, third or fourth.”
Mancini had identified van Persie as his priority signing almost a year ago and had been led to believe, towards the end of last season, that the deal was going to happen.
Now he describes the Dutchman as an “Arsenal or United player”, adding: “I don’t think we have any chance of this now. I don’t know [why]. You need to speak to Brian.”
It felt like a calculated performance from Mancini in keeping with what happened last summer, when he fell out with Marwood and the club’s then chief executive, Garry Cook, about a number of different transfer-related issues, one being how long it was taking to sign Samir Nasri.
On that occasion the relationship descended to a point at which the club’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, summoned all the different factions to Abu Dhabi to mediate a peace agreement.
City have been forced to operate with greater restraint in the transfer market this summer to fall in line with Uefa’s financial fair play regulations, something al-Mubarak has explained at length to Mancini, but the manager remains dissatisfied about their inability to close deals and move on unwanted players such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz.
Mancini, who has already said that his current squad is not good enough to win the Champions League, is also annoyed, to a lesser extent, about the way Chelsea outbid City for Eden Hazard. “You can ask Brian this,” he said again.
One of the first questions Mancini faced at his press conference was about the failed bids for the Liverpool defender Daniel Agger and his long-standing interest in Roma’s Daniele De Rossi. “Talk with Marwood, please,” he said.
Mancini conceded he was “not happy” when asked about the role he and Marwood have in transfer policy, and there was more thinly veiled criticism when asked whether the club should have moved earlier for van Persie.
Returning to the main source of irritation, he added: “United need a player like van Persie. He could play for any team because he is a top player.”
It was a grumpy start to the season, out of keeping with the atmosphere that would ordinarily have been expected at a club beginning a defence of the title.
Mancini has also learned Gareth Barry may be out for another month because of the abdominal injury that meant he took no part in the European Championship.
Micah Richards will miss tomorrow’s game with an ankle problem, while Mancini said Mario Balotelli and David Silva would be restricted to substitute roles because of their involvement in the Euro 2012 final.
Balotelli has attracted bids from “four or five” Italian clubs, according to Mancini, as well as one from France, almost certainly Paris St-Germain. “This summer we had a lot of requests for him. Many important teams wanted him. He’s a top player, he’s young and we are sure he can improve and be an important player for the club.”