Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has blamed the poor condition of the pitch for his team’s inability to overcome Greek side Aris Salonika in the first leg of their Europa League tie. Despite an assured performance by the Citizens, new signing Edin Dzeko was guilty of missing several golden opportunities as the match finished goalless.
Mancini said: “We had control of the game but this pitch was difficult to play on and I think if we had scored in the first half with Dzeko things may have changed. But they defended with nine or ten behind the ball so it was difficult.”
It could have been a different story had the returning Mario Balotelli found the net with an ambitious bicycle kick but City will take solace in their solid defensive performance ahead of next Thursday’s second leg.
Given willing to help Hart.
Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given has insisted he will aid Joe Hart in his development even if it means further hampering his own first team opportunities.
“He is a young guy and young in goalkeeping terms as well,” said Given. “You know he doesn’t pick the team, it’s the manager who does. So you would like to think you would help him in any way.”
The 34-year-old hasn’t featured in the Premier League this season and has conceded that his current situation is far from ideal. “You’ve got to play with the hand you’ve been dealt. That’s the situation I’m in and there’s nothing I can do to change that. I’m not a young keeper but I’ve played a good few games in my career and I’d like to think I can call on that experience to get me through a difficult period.”
Levante set for Caicedo deal.
Spanish outfit Levante are reportedly considering making on loan Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo’s move permanent in a £1m deal, according to Talksport.
The Ecuador international has been on loan at La Liga side Levante since the summer and has caught the eye with nine goals in just 12 starts. It has been reported in Spain that Levante will pay City the pre-arranged fee of £1m, securing him on a long-term contract containing a £10million release clause. But the Spanish side will struggle to keep him on a long-term basis, as their mounting debts may force another quick fire sale.