City stars back me, insists Mancini

MANCHESTER (AFP) - Roberto Mancini insists there has been no dressing room rebellion at Manchester City in response to his arrival as replacement for sacked boss Mark Hughes.

Mancini arrived at Eastlands on Monday following Hughes's dismissal last weekend and reports in England claimed a number of senior players including Craig Bellamy and Shay Given had protested about the decision to City chief executive Garry Cook.

It has been suggested that Bellamy, Given and other players close to Hughes could ask to leave during the January transfer window.

But former Inter Milan coach Mancini claims he hasn't had any complaints about his squad's attitude in training this week.

"I thought the players trained very well. I think I have a good team and we have only one problem and that is many players injured," Mancini said.

"I have a good relationship with the players. I appreciate some players are close to Mark but that is a good thing for a manager.

"When I go away from Manchester City in 15 years after five Premier League titles and four cups the players will have the same situation with me!"

Mancini also dismissed claims made by Cook this week that he had previously been approached by Liverpool when American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were considering the future of Reds manager Rafa Benitez.

"Liverpool never contacted me, absolutely. They have a good manager, Rafa is a good manager," Mancini said.

Mancini set a target of finishing in the top four when he was unveiled as City boss on Monday and he believes he can match his achievements at Inter in the long run.

He won three Serie A titles with the San Siro club, helping Inter replace AC as the city's dominant force. To do the same in Manchester would be quite an effort but Mancini is convinced it is possible.

"It depends (finishing in the top four) but I think so. It is important now we concentrate on Boxing Day's game at home to Stoke and then after that one game at a time," he said.

"I think I can do a job and my target, always, is to win. Inter Milan was a good job. I arrived there when they had not won in 18 years and after one year they won the cup and then after that the championship.

"I think I can do the same in Manchester but for this it is important that I work hard and I get to know the team fast."

Mancini accepts it will take time for the players to adjust to his methods but hopes to have the team playing his way within a month.

"We must work out our defensive problem. A balance to the team is the most important situation but for this we must work every day," he said.

"After three or four weeks it will be possible for them to adapt to my style.

"I hope the players play well on Saturday and understand my team talk."