MANCHESTER, February 1 – Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was pleased with his side's 2-0 win over Portsmouth at Eastlands on Sunday but admitted his side had been distinctly under-par in what was a poor encounter.First-half goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Vincent Kompany secured the three points for City but there was precious little else to cheer about in a match that never really got off the ground.
Adebayor had not started for his club since returning home early from the African Cup of Nations last month following the terrifying gun assault on the Togo team bus in Cabinda that left two backroom staff dead.
However, he told City manager Roberto Mancini on Saturday that he felt mentally strong enough to start the match and rewarded his manager’s faith with a 40th minute opener while Kompany found a second with a header five minutes later.
Yet apart from those goals, City looked shapeless and tired and Mancini admitted that Wednesday’s night’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final second leg match had taken a toll on his players.
"Today (Sunday) was an important victory but we did not play well. Physically we played strong and very very well (against United) and probably today we were a bit tired because of that.
"We started the game very slowly but it was important in the end that we win."
Mancini was particularly pleased to see Adebayor scoring again after his comeback from that harrowing incident but Mancini still expects it to take time for him to fully recover and insists there is more to come from him.
"I’m happy for him because he scored a good goal and an important goal," he added.
"I know that it was a difficult game for him today. I think he needs to train next week and today he played well but I think he can improve."
As City’s players left the pitch after a second half that was even duller than the first, three players – Nigel de Jong, Carlos Tevez and Stephen Ireland sported t-shirts with the slogan ‘Team Bridge’ on them.
These were in support of injured teammate Wayne Bridge after recent revelations that Bridge’s former Chelsea teammate and best friend John Terry has allegedly been cheating on his wife with Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, French lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel.
"The players are very close to Wayne," Mancini said.
"He is a fantastic player and a good guy. It was a nice gesture. Wayne is a fantastic man and a very, very good guy and I think the players are very,very close to him."
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant refused to meet the media after the match with a Portsmouth official citing that he wanted to wait for the transfer window to close on Monday before making his thoughts known about life at Fratton Park.
However, all is certainly not well with the players again paid late this month along with chief executive Peter Storrie revealing earlier this week that his role was becoming increasingly untenable because he did not know Portsmouth were trying to sell Younes Kaboul and Asmir Begovic.
Aligned to that situation is the fact they remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premier League on 15 points but life is not all bad according to assistant manager Paul Groves, who claims the Pompey players are still doing their best despite the off-the-field situation.
"You saw from the way the lads played today in terms of spirit and togetherness that they get on and do the job," he said.
"We are in it to win football matches and get points. If we can get back to back points we can put some pressure on the teams around u