Roberto Mancini has angrily demanded respect as the Italian offered an impassioned defence of his tenure as Manchester City manager ahead of Tuesday's must-win Champions League visit of Ajax. City have only one point from their opening three group games and are conscious that if other results go against them even victory in the final three would not be enough.
On Friday Mancini admitted that last season he spoke to Monaco about becoming their manager, then on Saturday evening the 47-year-old said City were not yet equipped to win the Champions League. Asked to clarify these comments, Mancini interrupted and said: "I don't understand why you continue to ask me about last month, last year. It's finished, so why? For which reason, why do you continue to ask me: 'Last year you had another chance to go.' I stay here because my work is here. I worked for two years. I built with the chairman, with the owner, this team. We won three trophies in two years. For 50 years we didn't win [the title, actually forty-four]. Never. Never.
"You should have respect for the people sometimes. I don't understand why you have to ask me this, why? You ask me one question, I'm polite because I answered your question and the other questions. I'm polite because I answer: 'It's true' [regarding Monaco]. Every year I can have two or three new situations where I can go, I want to stay here because I work hard. I am not saying the future will be easy but when you have a new team the strong work is the first two years and we have won three trophies. I think you should have more respect for this, for me, for the club, for the players."
Mancini's squad have vastly experienced internationals who include the Champions League winner Yaya Touré, and the currently injured David Silva, who has won the World Cup and European Championship. When it was suggested, then, that City should be able to progress beyond the group stages, a calmer Mancini said: "I said that in the Champions League there are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Manchester United – [all] have more experience than us. We play in the Champions League for the second year. We probably need to work harder at this but sometimes you also need to be luckier in the draw."
Asked if expectations were too high on City, Mancini said: "We have the same team. We scored 36 goals by this stage last year and now we have scored 18. We have lost important players but we are still two points behind Manchester United after 10 games [in the Premier League]."
Mancini's record in the competition is modest, with the furthest he has reached the quarter-finals when in charge of Internazionale. Does the Italian find the Champions League difficult? "No, for me it is the same, it doesn't change this. I said after West Ham [on Saturday] that if we said we are ready to win the Champions League, this is not true because we do need to improve," Mancini said.
Yaya Touré admitted to French newspaper L'Equipe that there can be dressing-room clashes, though these do not concern him. The Ivorian said: "I want to make history with this club, I want to end my career here. I'm pretty sure and I hope that when I'm an old man, sat around, they will still talk about me here. Of course there are rows at big clubs, with all the people with different egos, including mine. But we will be OK. I am still confident." Mancini was also relaxed. "I don't have any problem with this. As a manager I have had a lot of players like this – top players – and I was the same as a player," he said. "But this is normal in a top squad when you have 14-15 players at this level. It's normal that you can have this problem but we don't have any problems."
Of Touré receiving a new contract, the manager added: "I think so because he is a very important player for us. He is one of the best players in Europe and in my life I have seen a lot of big players and Yaya is one of those."
For the Ajax game Mancini's injured list numbers six – Joleon Lescott, who has a back injury, James Milner and David Silva (hamstring), Micah Richards (knee), Jack Rodwell (groin), and Maicon who is training but not ready following his foot injury. Kolo Touré is ineligible as he is not in the competition squad.