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Manchester City

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Roberto Mancini confident Manchester City will end home goal drought
Daniel Taylor - 7 years ago

Roberto Mancini is hoping Manchester City's supporters will demonstrate greater patience as the biggest spenders in English football prepare to play at Eastlands for the first time since their manager was subjected to mutinous chants in the scoreless draw at home to Birmingham City earlier this month.

Mancini has received voluble backing from his club's away supporters during their last few games on the road but the Birmingham game represented one of the lower points of his 11 months in Manchester, with supporters targeting him with hostile chants and booing the team off the pitch.

The Italian was as animated after that match as any point in his time in England but, two and a half weeks on, he has taken a more relaxed view. "Supporters are supporters. When you win, the supporters, they are happy. When you lose, they're not happy. We must always respect our supporters even when they are not happy."

Nonetheless, there was a clear message ahead of back-to-back home games against Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League tomorrow night and Bolton Wanderers in a fourth-versus-sixth clash in the Premier League on Saturday. "Our job is to continue to work, to improve and try to win for them [the fans], and we always wants to do this. But the supporters must help the team too. This is normal."

The allegation directed at Mancini is that his tactics are too negative when City, without a goal at Eastlands in their last three matches, are playing on their own ground. Wigan Athletic, in 18th place, are the only club who have scored fewer home goals - City have seven in as many games - and the hostility manifested itself against Birmingham when Mancini replaced a striker, Carlos Tevez, with a largely defence-minded midfielder, Gareth Barry, for the final few minutes.

Mancini rejects the criticism of his tactics but he, too, is concerned about the over-reliance on Tevez in attack. "This problem is because all the teams that come to Eastlands come with all their players behind the ball. It's difficult sometimes, but I think we will reach a moment where we score a lot of goals."

His team can qualify for the next stage of the Europa League if they win tomorrow night and Juventus fail to do likewise at Lech Poznan. The alternative is a difficult trip to Turin for the final round of matches in Group A, so the incentives are clear for beating the side currently third in the Austrian Bundesliga.

City won the away fixture 2-0 in September and Mancini plans to keep to his policy of resting some of his key players at this stage of the competition. The game comes too early, however, for the fit-again Michael Johnson, who will be eased in with a couple of reserve matches before he is considered for first-team action after 13 months out with a knee injury. Wayne Bridge, whose habit of picking up injuries has become an increasing concern for Mancini, is also unavailable.

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