Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has urged his team-mates to take some responsibility themselves and not heap all Manchester City’s hopes of a top-four place on the shoulders of manager Roberto Mancini.
After two wins in eight games, culminating in the FA Cup exit at Stoke, Mancini’s position was starting to come under increased scrutiny.
The response was spectacular, as City romped to a 4-2 victory over Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to once more re-establish themselves at the head of that scrap for a Champions League berth.
After four years at Inter Milan, Mancini claims to be immune from pressure.
Nevertheless, after growing rumours of discontent within the Blues camp at Mancini’s training methods, Given claimed it was time the players started to stand up.
“At a big club, when results don’t go your way, everyone looks at the manager,” said Given.
“But players have to look in the mirror too and work through difficult situations.
“It is the players who cross the white line. They have to stand up to the challenge.
“Manchester City is a big club and we want to do our business on the pitch.”
Craig Bellamy’s devastating broadside may have kept the focus on the ongoing dispute between Wayne Bridge and John Terry for a little while longer but, with Mancini eager to end discussion of the topic, City can get their focus back on their one remaining task for the season.
Certainly, Given does not feel any lingering uncertainty over Mancini’s methods compared to those of former boss Mark Hughes are any excuse for under-par performances.
“Every manager has different methods. You get used to them,” he said.
“We are working on different things and both he and the team deserve a pat on the back for going to a very difficult place and coming away with a positive result.”
It is a result Mancini thinks can transform City’s season.
The Italian also feels it is the type of victory the Blues need to get more often if they are to muscle their way onto the top table.
Yesterday represented City’s first win at Chelsea since 1993. They have beaten Manchester United just once at Old Trafford since 1974, while one win at Anfield in 29 years and no away victory against Arsenal since 1975 tells its own story of chronic under achievement.
“If we are going to get into the top four, we have to get used to winning at places like Chelsea and Liverpool,” said Mancini.
“You always have to think you will win.”
Tottenham’s continued participation in the FA Cup means City now have a weekend off, allowing Mancini to give his players a short break before they return for the final push for fourth.
Two-goal Carlos Tevez should be able to have a rest after his mercy dash back to Argentina following the premature birth of his daughter, while Bridge, Roque Santa Cruz and Kolo Toure all have knee problems to overcome before City head to Sunderland on March 14.
“I don’t have a problem with pressure,” said Mancini. “I never have.
“It is difficult because Manchester City are expected to win every game.
“I know Manchester City can develop. But I also know we must work if we are to finish in fourth.”