FOOTBALLTransfer woes cloud City preps
Lack of signings a concern for Blues boss Mancini
Birmingham, United Kingdom: Roberto Mancini admits Manchester City’s Community Shield clash with Chelsea on Sunday has been overshadowed by the transfer row that threatens to derail the Premier League champions before they have even started their title defence.
Mancini’s side will face the European champions in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season at Villa Park this weekend and the fixture should have been an ideal chance for City to flex their muscles by showing off new additions to their squad.
But instead City boss Mancini has been unable to make a single major signing since that dramatic May day when his team were crowned English champions for the first time in 44 years.
Mancini had hoped City’s incredible 3-2 win over QPR, which wrestled the title from Manchester United on the final day of the season, would be the springboard for significant investment in the transfer market during the close-season.
The Italian clearly has a talented squad already, but he believes more options are required in every area to cope with the renewed challenge from United and Chelsea, as well as improving their chances of mounting a strong campaign in the Champions League.
With that in mind, it is easy to see why Mancini has become frustrated as the club’s football administrator Brian Marwood failed to secure deals for Arsenal forward Robin van Persie, Liverpool defender Daniel Agger and Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi.
Now their rift is casting a cloud over City’s pre-season preparations, with their Premier League opener against Southampton just over a week away.
“Sorry, but I know that for you (the media) these questions are more important than the match but for this you should talk to Brian Marwood, not with me,” Mancini said.
“I don’t want to talk about the market. I don’t know what I should say in this moment because after three or four months I don’t know. I’m not happy but I won’t say anything at the moment.
“I think we have a good team but we built this team two years ago. I think that it is impossible that after two years ago you did everything well. You still need to improve.
“You need to improve when we have a training session, we need to improve in every way.”
City duo Micah Richards and Gareth Barry are set to miss Sunday’s glamour game, with the latter facing up to a month on the sidelines, while captain Vincent Kompany will undergo a fitness test.
Italian striker Mario Balotelli and Spanish midfielder David Silva, who both starred at Euro 2012, will feature from the bench after only beginning their pre-season preparations six days ago following extended leave.
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has warned City that everybody will be out to turn them over this season.
“It’s certainly hard to stay at the top,” Di Matteo said. “There’ll be a lot of good teams this season. The Premier League is getting more balanced every year.
“They have a good squad and they will be difficult to catch, but that’s the job of all the other teams — to try and win against Manchester City.”
However, the Italian did admit it will be tough for his side to challenge the two Manchester sides this season having finished 25 points behind them last season.
“There’s been a big gap last season, and that is one of our challenges this season, to bridge that gap,” Di Matteo said. “25 points are a lot of points, with both Manchester teams.
“It’ll be a tough season ahead but we’ll try and compete.”
Chelsea have a fully fit squad to choose from ahead of the clash at Villa Park, chosen to host the game as Wembley is unavailable due to the Olympic Games.