Mancini cites good Kompany

Roberto Mancini has named Vincent Kompany as captain for his Manchester City squad, officially demoting Carlos Tevez. Mancini may have his loyal leader, but he needs fit central midfielders.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has rewarded Vincent Kompany, foreground, with the team's captaincy.
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MANCHESTER // The theme may be evolution rather than revolution, but Etihad Stadium is witnessing significant changes, nonetheless.

Having reshaped and restyled his team by signing Sergio Aguero and then Samir Nasri, Roberto Mancini has confirmed a third major alteration to his Manchester City side.

"The captain is Vincent Kompany," he said.

Carlos Tevez's demotion to the ranks has been officially ratified.

The unsettled Argentine faces a battle to reclaim his place but, when he does, he will be serving under the Belgian.

"The reason is simple," Mancini said. "Carlos wanted to leave the club for family reasons. I respect his opinion, but I decided in the summer that Vinnie is captain."

A more loyal leader seems to form part of Mancini's blueprint but, to the frustration of the Italian, he must present another draft sketch against Wigan Athletic today - the full picture is not complete as City is struggling to find fit central midfielders.

A foot problem has sidelined Nigel de Jong since he was substituted an hour into the opening league game, the 4-0 victory over Swansea. City are unsure when the influential Dutchman will return. An ankle injury means that Gareth Barry makes a doubt, and Owen Hargreaves, Mancini's deadline-day addition, is unlikely to figure for another two weeks.

However, Mancini has high hopes for the midfielder who cost Manchester United £18 million (Dh105.4m) four years ago and was England's player of the 2006 World Cup.

"I think Hargreaves will be fit in two weeks, and he can play always," Mancini said. "He is 30 years old, so he is young, and he was very unlucky [with injuries] in the last two years."

The rationale for his recruitment was simple, he said. "Hargreaves was a free transfer. We needed a midfielder, and we thought this could be good for us because he was a fantastic player."

When Hargreaves does debut, it could coincide with Kolo Toure's second coming as a City player.

The former Arsenal defender has completed a six-month suspension for taking a diet pill that contained banned substances and is eligible again. But he, too, is short of match fitness after such a long time on the sidelines.

"He is fit, but he needs to play," Mancini said.

While he is happy with the players he has acquired, the City manager has different feelings about two men the club failed to offload.

Although his departure is still likely, Nedum Onuoha will be permitted to train with the first-team squad again and, should enough defenders be sidelined, could make a first-team return.

Wayne Bridge has no such hope.

"Onuoha stays with us because he is home-grown, although he knows it is difficult to play often," his manager said. "It is better Bridge finds a solution in the Championship."

The transfer window reopens to permit loans to lower-division clubs, and the left-back, who rejected a move to Celtic, has been advised to pursue first-team football there.

"I think he should be disappointed because every player should want to play," Mancini said diplomatically. Tevez's desire to start has rarely been questioned.

One theory about the Argentine's career, however, is that he gets fully fit by playing matches.

Mancini, refuting the argument the striker is a poor trainer, has no such concerns.

While Tevez remains one of Manchester's more divisive figures, though, there is rare harmony in the city.

"Six teams can win the Premier League," Mancini said, agreeing with Sir Alex Ferguson and tipping Arsenal and Tottenham to rally after their early problems.

"But now, I think, United are two or three yards ahead of us."



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