Zabaleta: It's hard for Mancini to keep 25 players happy

The Manchester City defender defends his under-pressure boss, who has to deal with egos when rotating a large squad, despite being 12 points behind in the title race
Pablo Zabaleta has defended manager Roberto Mancini, whom he believes has a difficult job at Manchester City on and off of the field.

The 28-year-old has been a key player under the Italian this season, occasionally being forced to fill in for skipper Vincent Kompany in the centre of defence.

Zabaleta recognises that Mancini has a hard time when it comes to the man-management aspect of the job, with a full first-team squad needing to be rotated.


"With 25 players it isn't easy for the manager to work and keep everybody happy," he told The Guardian. "Sometimes if a player has been dropped for a game because Mancini wants to make a change, it's difficult for them, they go down, because they want to play. That happens in all teams."

Divisions had been highlighted by last season's dispute between the manger and Carlos Tevez, the forward refusing to come on as a substitute and spending several months away from the club.

"When you lose a game everybody is upset," explained Zabaleta. "It is difficult for the manager because his team isn't playing well and sometimes after the game is not the right time to say something. It's better sometimes to calm down and talk about what happened. From something very small it grew so big."

Of the club's internal inquiry into the Tevez incident, his fellow Argentine stated: "I just told the truth. I was next to Carlos and I gave my answer to the club, the truth.

"The positive thing is that Carlos came back again and the commitment for the club and team has been 100 per cent. So that is well done by him."

25/1 Pablo Zabaleta is 25/1 with BetVictor to score the first goal in Aston Villa v Manchester City
Even though the club have failed to make an impression in Europe since the arrival of Sheikh Mansour over three years ago, Zabaleta believes that the experiences they have had so far in the Champions League will help them going forward in the coming years.

"We are a team [built] over the last four years; it's not really easy for a team to build up the mentality to try to keep winning every year, like top teams around Europe," he observed.

"Probably this year we needed to show we wanted to retain the title and it's been very difficult. So we know that we need to do something more, give something more, try to do better, to create that strong mentality that we need.

"You just need to be consistent. It is a position where you have to work more for the team, offensively, defensively. Sometimes we have to accept we are not the stars but we just try to do the best for the team.

"We know we have great, fantastic players but probably we have to be stronger as a group to be one of the top teams in Europe."