Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has urged his players to keep their nerve and not be deflected by the flak that has been heading in their direction recently.
City emerged from yet another tumultuous week with a precious three points from their game against Tottenham, allowing them to nudge themselves up to second in the table, still unbeaten. Not bad for a club supposedly on the ropes after failing to overcome Ajax at home five days earlier, a result which left their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.
"There are some moments during any season when you don't play well, you might concede goals you didn't concede last year or maybe you are missing three or four important players," said Mancini.
"At these moments it is important to stay calm and work hard. In football things can change quickly."
The good news for Mancini is that his words are being echoed from inside the dressing room. Indeed, if the example of Manchester United is anything to go by, all the negativity surrounding them can end up being a pretty significant positive.
"We have come a long way in the last four years and the expectations have changed," said Pablo Zabaleta.
"It's normal that when you win the title, people will knock you at the first opportunity. You are up there to be shot at and we take it all on the chin. It happens at other clubs. It's just the way things are."
Of course, the significant difference between United and City is the sheer control exerted on their respective clubs by Sir Alex Ferguson and Mancini. Whilst dissent at United is rare, at City trouble of some description always seems to be brewing.
On Sunday, for instance, Ferguson could have got away with leaving out a star player by putting it down to rotation. At City, Mario Balotelli's appearance in the stand just triggered more rumours of a fall-out with Mancini, amid further speculation about a transfer window move back to Italy.
"Mario was a technical choice," said Mancini. "There was no fall-out, just rest and recovery."
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