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London – Roberto Mancini has warned his players that they must take responsibility for the mistakes that have undermined their defence of the Barclays Premier League title.
Manchester City travel to Aston Villa tonight 15 points behind leaders Manchester United and seemingly out of the title race. And just days after making controversial comments about forward Samir Nasri and goalkeeper Joe Hart, Mancini claimed his players must learn to cope with the pressure at the top.
He said: “I don’t like players that never think it’s their fault. These players can’t play with me.
I say what I think and me. Sometimes it’s important that one player takes his responsibility because when you are a top player you earn a lot of money and you should play at 100 per cent always.
“I want strong players that are upset with me when they don’t play but after that show me they deserve to play.
“For this reason we’ve said that it was important to put another two or three top players in the team.”
Mancini has had to withstand criticism in the wake of his comments about Hart and Nasri, with some critics suggesting he is in danger of turning his own dressing room against him.
“I said that, for me, Samir is a top player,” he said. “It’s the same for Joe. If I am a top player, I want to play well in every game and Samir knows this because I have spoken about this situation with him.”
Mancini admitted that trying to retain the title had proved tougher than many people thought.
“It’s difficult to win a championship here,” said Mancini. “We won last year but we won very quickly. Usually when you manage a team that hasn’t won for 40 years, I think that you need four, five or six years to win a Premier League.
“We won the championship after two years and it’s clear it’s more difficult the year after but we had the chance.”
Villa manager Paul Lambert, who will be without Darren Bent for three weeks because of a foot injury, is still confident his struggling side can escape relegation and said: “I have felt that for a few weeks we have been playing well without getting the results. We know how good Manchester City can be but we’re at home and our crowd will drive us onwards.
“There are 33 points still left to play for. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.” – Daily Mail