Mancini expects gradual change at City

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini warns it could take a month for his players to adjust to his style of play as he prepares to take charge of his first match against Stoke at Eastlands on Saturday.

Although City have lost just twice in the Barclays Premier League, Mark Hughes paid the price for failing to deliver more than seven wins from their 17 matches and only Everton, Bolton and West Ham have conceded more goals at home.

“We must work out our defensive problem,” acknowledged Mancini.

“A balance to the team is the most important situation but for this we must work every day.

“After three or four weeks it will be possible (for them to adapt).

“I hope the players play well on Saturday and understand my team talk.”

Leaders Chelsea have the chance to open up a seven-point gap when they visit Birmingham in Saturday’s early kick-off but manager Carlo Ancelotti insists there will be no complacency against the seventh-placed Blues.

“Birmingham arrived from five consecutive victories and a draw,” he said.

“Above all, it’s difficult to play up there. They put a lot of pressure on and we’ll have to pay attention.”

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has no sympathy for Rafael Benitez as he looks to add to the Liverpool manager’s problems at Anfield.

With the Reds struggling to mount a top-four challenge this season, Wolves could heap even more pressure on Benitez if they can claim a fourth victory in five games.

“I can’t remember ever receiving sympathy from anyone,” said McCarthy.

“So I don’t expect any and I don’t give any out either.

“But I never subscribe to the theory that because a team is having a bad time that run will continue.

“At some stage they have to get out of that run and I have no doubt they will see Wolves coming as an opportunity.”

The Merseysiders have won just four of their last 17 games and Benitez admitted: “We know we have to change the situation, sooner rather than later. That is clear.”

Tottenham can leapfrog Aston Villa and Arsenal – who meet on Sunday – into third place if they win at Fulham, who are fresh from their 3-0 win over Manchester United.

West Ham are hoping to put daylight between themselves and Portsmouth when the league’s bottom two clash at Upton Park.

“We need to get a result and it has to be three points because they are close to us,” said Hammers manager Gianfranco Zola.

“It is a six-pointer and will be a big occasion.”

There is also a relegation-haunted derby at Turf Moor between Burnley and Bolton while Wigan face Blackburn at the DW Stadium on the back of only one win in seven games.

Everton, meanwhile, travel to fellow strugglers Sunderland looking to arrest a run of seven League games without a win.

Aston Villa go to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday a place behind Arsenal in fourth and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger says the clash represents an opportunity for his men to open up a gap.

“It is a game where, if you look at the table, you will come to a conclusion very easily,” he declared.

“It is a game where we can strengthen our position in the league, so that’s why we will be completely focused.”

Manchester United’s medical staff are working feverishly to get either Nemanja Vidic or Wes Brown fit for Sunday’s trip to Hull, while teenage Brazilian brothers Rafael and Fabio Da Silva are being pushed ahead of schedule.

“Hull will be encouraged by the fact we have these defenders injured,” said manager Alex Ferguson.

“They will certainly have a go at us.”

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