Mancini laughs off talk of the sack
Soccer:Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has dismissed suggestions his job is under threat and believes the FA Cup could reinvigorate his side.
It has been suggested the Italian could be sacked if City are beaten in the fifth round of the cup by Championship side Leeds on Sunday.
Speculation over Mancini’s future at the Etihad Stadium has resurfaced after City fell 12 points behind Manchester United at the top of the Premier League last weekend.
With just 12 games remaining, City’s hopes of retaining the title are now slim and the cup is their most realistic route to silverware.
Former City defender Danny Mills has even said Mancini could be removed early next week and a successor appointed by Thursday if Leeds pull off a shock win.
Mancini said: “We started our project three years ago. In three years we are always on the top. We fight for the title, we won three trophies, we have the chance to win more this year.
“All the people who talk about this don’t understand football, because if Manchester City should sack me, the other 20 teams in the Premier League should be without a manager.”
Mancini, who succeeded Mark Hughes in December 2009, ended City’s 35-year trophy drought by guiding them to FA Cup success in 2011.
He followed that by overseeing a first title win in 44 years last May and then added an additional trophy in the Community Shield.
Yet last weekend’s 3-1 loss at relegation battlers Southampton, which allowed United to pull further away, has further highlighted deficiencies which were evident in a poor Champions League campaign before Christmas.
Mills told BBC Sport: “Mancini is under pressure. It looks like they have blown their chances of retaining the title.
“You wonder what would happen if they went out of the FA Cup against Leeds. I think Roberto Mancini goes.”
When told he had been criticised by “former City players”, Mancini responded by saying, sarcastically, they were “probably the players that won a lot of trophies in the history”.
Regardless of that, Mancini does recognise Sunday’s tie as highly important. The 48-year-old, who signed a five-year contract last summer, said: “Now FA Cup is different. It is clear that it will not be easy because they (Leeds) beat Tottenham. I don’t think to play against Leeds is easy.
“In the FA Cup every game is difficult. This is another way to do better in the last three months, if it is possible, to play in the final.”
Mancini is also not willing to write off his side’s title hopes. Last week he conceded their hopes were slim but he claims it is not in his nature to give up.
He said: “I do not think like this, never. I always think we can win everything.
“I have another mentality. We have 12 games, we need to do our best and not look at the table because it is not important now.
“We are a good team. We did some mistakes and lost some stupid points. We don’t deserve to stay 12 points behind but this is football.
“United deserve to stay on top at this moment but with 12 games we will do our best and in the end we will see what happens.”