Mancini dismisses Suarez talk
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini showed his lighter side before addressing some serious issues as he met media ahead of this weekend's clash with Aston Villa.
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9. Luis Suarez
After sending David Platt to speak on his behalf before and after last Sunday's defeat of Tottenham, the Italian joked with press by arriving for his latest briefing wearing a mask of his assistant.
It was the 47-year-old's way of showing he had lost none of his sense of humour despite a couple of recent fiery exchanges with journalists.
But the City manager was soon dealing with more weighty matters as he was asked about reports linking the club with Luis Suarez, last week's omission of Mario Balotelli and Joe Hart's form.
Mancini dismissed out of hand claims that City are lining up a bid in the region of £50million for Liverpool's in-form striker Suarez.
He even said the Barclays Premier League champions have no intention of adding to their squad at all when the transfer window opens in January.
Mancini said: "Firstly we have a good team and we don't need to buy other players in January.
"Secondly, we can't buy Suarez because we don't need him and we have four strikers. Suarez is a top player but he plays for Liverpool."
Mancini is tiring of having to address off-field issues.
In recent weeks there has been speculation over his future following reports claiming he spoke to Monaco last season and after the appointment of new director of football Txiki Begiristain.
As well as that, there have been various other reports of problems within the dressing room.
Mancini said: "For two weeks we talk about Monaco, after (Pep) Guardiola, after another manager, now Suarez, after that we sell Mario.
"But it is not true. We want to talk about everything but we took only three or four questions about the game, and that is more important."
Balotelli was dropped for the 2-1 defeat of Spurs and watched from the stands after not even being given a place on the bench.
Mancini insists the mercurial forward was left out for footballing reasons after poor performances in training.
He said: "Mario didn't play because it was my choice. I have 20 players and if there are some players that don't work well, they don't deserve to play.
"Mario is like the other players. There were other players that worked better than Mario and they deserve to go on the bench or to play."
Since last weekend there have been fresh reports linking Balotelli with a move back to Italy in January.
The player's agent quashed that by saying the 22-year-old would see out the remainder of his contract and that his relationship with Mancini was like that of a married couple.
Mancini said: "I know Mario like a guy, like the other players but I am a manager, he is a player.
"If he doesn't work well, he doesn't play. Like the other players, nothing changes.
"He is my player. Sometimes he plays well, sometimes not well but he is an important player for us. We don't think of selling him in January."
Mancini also backed Hart following criticism of his performance in England's 4-2 friendly loss to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired Sweden in midweek.
Mancini said: "The keeper sometimes can make a mistake, this is normal.
"If a keeper makes a mistake, you concede a goal and you lose. If the striker doesn't score a goal the game can finish 0-0.
"This is a keeper's life but Joe is a top keeper.
"Ibrahimovic can score against every keeper. Ibrahimovic for me is one of the top five strikers in the world."
Despite criticism of their recent form, City remain unbeaten in the Premier League and can move top of the table - albeit possibly only briefly - with victory over Villa at the Etihad Stadium.
Villa won at Eastlands in the Capital One Cup in September but the likes of Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero missed the game.
City then host Real Madrid in the latest match of their apparently doomed Champions League campaign next Wednesday.
Mancini said: "What is important is Saturday's game against Aston Villa. It is important to beat Aston Villa.
"We will need to have a good attitude because it will be a tough game. After tomorrow we think about Real Madrid."
Edin Dzeko will hope to start after netting his seventh goal of the season - and his sixth as a substitute - with the late winner against Spurs.
Mancini said: "I hope that Edin can score also when he starts a game because he has everything to do this.
"Last year he did everything well and I hope he can play well also when he starts a game."