Man City Daily – Mancini believes his City have improved

Ahead of tonight’s game against Birmingham City, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is convinced that his team have made giant strides since their last their last meeting in November.

Since that goalless draw, City have only managed 23 points from a possible 33, establishing themselves in the top four, but falling behind Manchester United at the summit. With the arrival of Edin Dzeko, and all the summer signings having had more time to settle, Mancini feels Birmingham will be in for a tougher time than they were for their last meeting.

The team has improved a lot since November,” said Mancini, speaking yesterday. “We can win (tomorrow), but we must play well because it will be a different game to the last one. I certainly have respect for Birmingham. They are a good team and have a cup final coming up.” Mancini is expected to welcome Kolo Toure, Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong, David Silva and Carlos Tevez back into the starting XI.

Edin Dzeko has admitted that he faces a fight to secure his place in the city line-up, and also admitted he had never experienced physicality like he has since arriving in England. But the Bosnian, buoyed by his first goal for the club, says he is up for the scrap for places, and the battle for success with City.

It’s very different here, harder than the Bundesliga,” said the 24-year-old, “I have never played any games like this in Germany, never. Never when you have to fight for 90 minutes,” he added after the Notts County game.

I have to get used to this as I want to be successful in England. But I am learning. Am I ready for the fight? Well, I would prefer to play football! But if you need to fight, then I will fight as well.”

When quizzed about the inevitable battle with Mario Balotelli for a starting place, Dzeko dodged the question with ample professionalism. “In Germany it’s different,” he said. “You don’t play every three days. What is important is for me to be fit, then it’s up to the coach. Balotelli and Tevez will come back soon and then we have a lot of good players. They can play when others are injured because we have so many games.”

Dzeko also believes it is only a matter of time before City’s squad begins to win silverware, but warns that patience is very much required.

I think we have a very good team here,” said the £27m striker. “We need time, of course, because there are a lot of new players. It’s realistic that we could win something this season. We have to believe and have confidence – then we will see.”

Michael Johnson has been named in Manchester City’s revised squad list submitted to the Premier League after the January transfer window.

The full list is: Hart, Given, Taylor, Logan, Richards, Zabaleta, Kompany, Boateng, Lescott, K Toure, Dzeko, Kolarov, A Johnson, Barry, Y Toure, Vieira, De Jong, Milner, M Johnson, Silva, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Jo.

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