Mancini expects more respect from Fergie
Roberto Mancini hopes Manchester City have earned more respect from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the derby clash between the title rivals next weekend.
City's Italian manager was delighted with the stylish way his team recorded a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa at Eastlands on Saturday to move ahead of United into first place in the Premier League.
The win sets up an intriguing match-up at Old Trafford next weekend as Mancini's men try to cling onto top spot.
For all the recent controversy that has shrouded City following the much-publicised dispute between Mancini and Argentina forward Carlos Tevez, the Italian claims his team are playing the most impressive football of his reign and he believes Ferguson should acknowledge that commitment to attack.
"We started the season very well but we knew this would be a hard week because we play Aston Villa, we play Villarreal (on Tuesday) which is a crucial game in the Champions League for us," said Mancini when asked if his team had been distracted by off-field matters.
"So our minds are very busy. Our confidence is high because we started the season well and won a lot of games, but we need to improve.
"Sir Alex Ferguson has more experience than me. He knows he has a fantastic team in his hands and he has respect for every team he plays against but I hope we are earning more respect."
Stephen Warnock's consolation for Villa counted for nothing as James Milner scored the game's final goal against his former club.
Mancini had started the game with Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Samir Nasri on the bench, a policy which handed Balotelli just his second league start of the season and one which he accepted impressively.
"I think Mario is always happy," Mancini said when asked if his countryman had finally settled in Manchester after a turbulent time in English football.
"At this moment, after he was on the bench four or five times in the last month, maybe he understood he needs to play well because he has scored four goals in a row.
"He is also working hard for the team. Mario can change in a moment but I'm very happy because now this is 40 or 50 days he has worked well, played well.
"He is motivated because he is playing and he is scoring, that is important for him.
"But it's important he continues to play like that. I think for every player who is there on the bench with me, it is not easy to watch the game and not play in a team that's playing well but now he is playing well and scoring goals and for him that is very important."
Mancini could also take pleasure from the continued rehabilitation of former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who made a 14-minute substitute appearance against Villa.
"I am happy for him because he is a good guy," said Mancini. "For him it is important to be playing in the Premier League without problems.
"He only played 15 minutes but it is important he doesn't have any problems and that he can continue to play now. He needs to play four, five, six games in a row."
Villa manager Alex McLeish was impressed with City but more concerned about his team's poor defending, particularly at set pieces.
"They have got to be contenders with the squad they have," said McLeish.
"But when you lose goals the way we did, defending at set-pieces, it doesn't matter whether it's Manchester City or an amateur team you're playing, you will still lose goals."
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