Roberto Mancini produced the kind of shrug that could only be Italian after suffering his first defeat as manager.
It was body language that spoke volumes for it was clear that he had learned a great deal from seeing his side lose to a hungry, busy and fast-improving Everton side.
Mancini, who suffered the blow of losing Roque Santa Cruz to injury in the opening five minutes of the 2-0 defeat at Everton, made the bold move to substitute an ineffective Robinho who had come on as the Paraguayan’s replacement but he warned no one should read too much into it.
The manager pulled no punches in his post match press conference.
“I must pay a compliment to Everton, they played better than us. We didn’t play well,” he admitted.
“The penalty was harsh because if you give a spot kick for shirt pulling there should be 5, 6 or ten per game. It was a pivotal moment because it doubled the lead just before half time.
Only in England would this kind of penalty be given but it is not an excuse. We didn’t play well enough to win the game and I learned more about my players
...Roberto Mancini on the penalty
Pressed about title chances and whether the club’s ambitions this season had been set to a level that is too lofty, Mancini smiled.
“I am not a magician, I am a manager,” he declared. “Hard work will improve us and that is the aim this season to improve game on game and see where we end up in the league and the cups”
Mancini said that too much should not be read into the substitution of Robinho who he says still has a future at CoMs.
“He is a good player and is treated like every other player,” he said.
“He must work hard and improve. His substitution was tactical. I had four attackers on the pitch in Robinho, Bellamy, Tevez and Benjani and I wanted to put Shaun Wright-Phillips on so I had to take off one and it was Robinho.”
The boss confirmed that RSC had damaged a calf and lamented the striker’s luck. He didn’t rule out going into the market before the end of the month but said it depended on injuries and availability.
As for the ‘lucky’ scarf? ‘That is staying,” he laughed – one of the few grins he’d had all day!