MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists he is happy with his striking options despite seeing Robin van Persie join title rivals Manchester United.
Mancini was keen to sign the Dutch forward from Arsenal during the close-season, but the Italian was forced to admit defeat in his pursuit earlier this month as United snatched him from City’s grasp. As City prepare for the start of their Premier League title defence against Southampton at Eastlands on Monday, Mancini knows he still has a fine attacking quartet in Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko to call on.
Mancini maintains he would not have been able to sign another striker without one of his forwards departing and is satisfied with his attack for the new campaign.
“I told you three weeks ago that he would either stay at Arsenal or join another club, but not us,” Mancini said at a press conference. Asked whether he was frustrated to miss out on van Persie, he said, “No, we have four strikers so it was impossible to put another striker in the squad, even though he is one of the best.”
Van Persie scored 30 Premier League goals last season and Mancini believes his arrival at Old Trafford makes United strong favourites for the title. Despite winning the league for the first time since 1968, Mancini considers United the team to beat in the Premier League.
“I said this seriously. United have played for the title every season for 20 years. Just because we won the championship last time we can’t change that. For this reason they’re favourites. Now they have van Persie as well. He was the best striker last year and is a fantastic player. With Wayne Rooney it will be one of the best partnerships in the Premier League.”
Persie to give selection headache: Fergie
Meanwhile, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted van Persie’s signing will give him a selection headache as he tries to give enough playing time to all four of his international strikers.
Van Persie is likely to start up front alongside Rooney whenever possible, but Ferguson also wants to keep Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez involved.
It is a pleasant problem to have and reminds the Scot of dealing with the demands of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who combined to fire United to the treble in 1999.
“I have a complication to my life,” said Ferguson. “I don’t know how I managed in 1999. They can gel together. Robin’s best position is furthest up the pitch. The most important thing is to win what we want to win. These players can help us to do that.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.
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