Manuel Pellegrini remains convinced under-fire Eliaquim Mangala will establish himself as a key figure in the Manchester City defence.
France centre-back Mangala has endured a difficult start to life in the Barclays Premier League following his £32m summer arrival from Porto.
The 23-year-old endured a torrid afternoon as City were beaten 2-1 at West Ham on Saturday, and to compound his woes opposition boss Sam Allardyce later revealed he had been targeted as the weak link.
Mangala also struggled in a game at Hull a month ago but manager Pellegrini has not lost faith.
Pellegrini remembers how Martin Demichelis was ridiculed after some calamitous performances when he joined the club last season but the Argentinian has now turned that situation around.
Pellegrini said: “The same thing happened with Martin Demichelis last year. Remember all the criticism for him after he just arrived in the Premier League.
“I think Eliaquim Mangala is a young player and he has a lot of experience. I am sure we bought the centre-back that we need in him.
“This year with him, Vincent (Kompany), Martin, (Matija) Nastasic and Dedryck Boyata we have centre-backs that I can assure you will play very well.”
Mangala and Bacary Sagna were signed in the close season to increase Pellegrini’s defensive options as it was felt City lacked depth in this area.
Performances this term, however, have been inconsistent with 17 goals conceded in 14 games in all competitions, including the Community Shield.
Pellegrini accepts improvement is needed, but he says that applies across the pitch and not only to the defence.
The Chilean said: “I think it’s very it’s important to have clean sheets. As a team you play easily or you play with more trust when you don’t concede any easy goal at the beginning.
“But I think we must improve in general, not just talking about the defending. We must create more chances, we must score more goals.
“We are working on that and I am absolutely sure we will return to be the same team we were in the most important part of last season.
“But the only way is to compare last season with this season. And I don’t think we are any worse this season.”