Mancini happy with progress

Roberto Mancini declared himself happy with his position at Manchester City but did not deny reports he was close to leaving last season.

Claims emerged this week the Italian had spoken to wealthy French Ligue 2 outfit Monaco with a view to joining them for this season.

Mancini subsequently guided City to the Barclays Premier League title and then signed a five-year contract to remain at the Etihad.

Addressing the reports, Mancini said: “Last year I was very close with seven or eight teams but I prefer to stay here. I have worked well here for three years. If someone thinks we didn’t do a good job – we won three trophies in two years. I am very happy we worked well.

“Now, the next three or four years will be very important for us.”

City’s wealth and accompanying expectations have placed Mancini under a lot of pressure but, despite making reference himself to interest from other clubs, he insisted he was not uncertain about his future.

The former Lazio and Inter Milan boss said: “No, my future, I thought always this (that he would stay). I signed a contract for the next five years because I believe in this squad, because I can work with serious people like the owner and the chairman.

“To work with these people is fantastic. In football it is difficult to find people who work well with the manager. For me it is a fantastic situation. Now, I think we have time to improve and build.”

Further questions were raised about Mancini’s position last weekend when City appointed Spaniard Txiki Begiristain as their new director of football.

Begiristain previously occupied the same role at Barcelona working with Ferran Soriano, who joined City as chief executive in August. Mancini welcomed the appointment of Begiristain and insisted he is not concerned that former Barca manager Pep Guardiola, currently out of work, will follow.

The City boss said: “I am very happy. He has a lot of experience with a top club like Barca. If we did well in the last two years, I think we can do better in the future.

“If people write that Txiki is here and maybe next year Guardiola will arrive or another manager, this is not my problem. I’m here, I want to continue to work well because I think we are ready to improve and build a stronger team.”

In announcing Begiristain’s appointment, City confirmed he would take responsibility for supporting Mancini in player recruitment, but the Italian added: “This doesn’t change anything.”

City travel to West Ham today looking to preserve their record as the only unbeaten team in the Premier League. Leaders Chelsea had their first loss last weekend against Man United, who, like City, are now a point behind Chelsea.

The champions have come in for plenty of criticism for their form this season, and Mancini said with a smile: “Last week I thought we were in the last position in the table. We’ll have a good feeling when we’re on top. At the moment we are behind Chelsea and we need to work more.”

City still have a lengthy injury list but things have eased slightly with midfielder Javi Garcia (thigh) and full-back Pablo Zabaleta (hamstring) now available while James Milner returns after suspension.

But midfielders David Silva and Jack Rodwell (both hamstring) and defender Maicon (foot) are still out and so is full-back Micah Richards.

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