Man City boss Mancini axes Bellamy but - He’s my friend

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini dropped Craig Bellamy from the starting XI for their 2-0 defeat of Stoke City.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini dropped Craig Bellamy from the starting XI for their 2-0 defeat of Stoke City.

Bellamy was introduced as a second-half substitute at Eastlands as City recorded a 2-0 win over Stoke in their first game since Mancini controversially replaced the sacked Mark Hughes.

A close ally of Hughes, Bellamy is known to be upset at the manner of the dismissal and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is among those believed to be monitoring the situation and pondering whether it is worth launching a bid during the January transfer window.

However, Redknapp will have been given little encouragement at the good natured manner with which Bellamy accepted his new boss' post-match handshake, or the words Mancini uttered shortly afterwards.

"Bellamy is my friend," said Mancini.

"There is no problem. I spoke with him two days ago. He understood when I told him he wasn't starting.

"We have two games in three days and I need all the players at 100%. Today we played Robinho. It is possible we will play Craig at Wolves on Monday."

The City fans certainly delivered their verdict, affording Bellamy a rapturous reception as he replaced the ineffective Robinho, who started up front alongside Carlos Tevez and failed to make a major impact.

Not that Mancini was joining in the condemnation.

"I was not disappointed with Robinho's performance," he insisted.

"He played well. But after 65 minutes he was tired and I needed to make a change."

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