Mancini: Touchline battle irrelevant

Roberto Mancini, pictured, says what the players do is more important than any perceived rivalry between him and Jose Mourinho

Roberto Mancini, pictured, says what the players do is more important than any perceived rivalry between him and Jose Mourinho

First published in National Sport News © by

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has played down talk of a personal duel with Real Madrid counterpart Jose Mourinho ahead of Wednesday's vital Champions League clash.

Any tension is believed to relate to the manner in which Mourinho succeeded Mancini at Inter Milan in 2008, and then followed by taking the Italian's title-winning squad on to Champions League glory. But Mancini has no time for any such suggestions and is focused only on victory at the Etihad Stadium, rather than specifically spoiling Mourinho's 100th match in the competition.

"Congratulations to him. To do 100 caps in the Champions League at his age (49) is very important, but I think tomorrow is not Mourinho against Mancini but City against Real Madrid," Mancini said.

Mancini's son Andrea, who plays for Spanish side Real Valladolid, this week added spice to the clash by saying his father knew more about football than Mourinho. He qualified that by saying Mourinho was a better motivator and added that the ideal manager would be "a mixture of the two".

Roberto Mancini said: "My son has his opinion, I respect his opinion. Mourinho is a good manager but it is an opinion. If you talk with Mourinho's sons, they say the same."

After collecting just two points from their first four matches in Group D, City must beat the Spanish giants to keep their slim hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive. Even then they will have to follow up by beating Borussia Dortmund in a fortnight and hope other results go their way to avoid premature elimination for a second successive season.

As far as Mourinho is concerned, the task is already beyond the Premier League champions and feels City, with all their quality, must be hurting.

The Portuguese, twice a winner of the competition, said: "I speak for myself. If Real Madrid loses a final or semi-final, or even a quarter-final, that is football.

"When you are out at the group phase it is more difficult to accept and understand. Last season they are out, and I think this season they will be out again.

"I think they can win tonight, of course they can, and they can also win in Dortmund, why not, but eight points is not enough."

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