Shortly after seeing his side secure an impressive, if deceptively hard-fought, 3-1 win at St James' Park, which moves City up to second in the Premier League, Mancini was at pains to praise Newcastle's England centre-forward.
"Carroll is a good player," said the Italian, more than once. "He's young, he's strong, he's very good. But I don't think that Newcastle want to sell." On an afternoon when Carlos Tevez scored twice for City, Carroll claimed his team's consolation goal and was virtually unplayable.
Mancini, marking the first anniversary of his City career, seemed suitably relieved that his players had seized on two defensive lapses to go two up within six minutes. "We started very well," said City's manager, doubtless aware that the German newspaper Bild is reporting that Wolfsburg has softened its stance on selling Edin Dzeko and may now release the coveted striker for a lesser figure of around ¤30m (£25.5m). "But it was a difficult game against a strong Newcastle team."
Meanwhile Tevez emphasised a recent reconciliation with both his Eastlands paymasters and Mancini by making things extremely hard for Alan Pardew's defence before exchanging smiles and an embrace with his manager after being withdrawn. "Carlos played very well, he has a real focus," said Mancini, whose team boast the league's best away record. "I am happy."
Asked to describe his year at Eastlands, Mancini gave a one word answer: "Fantastic." A little qualification followed. "We must improve at home, though. Away we are very good but we've lost a lot of points at home. If we do improve I hope we can arrive on top and that we can win something."
Pardew remains circumspect about City's prospects. "They've certainly got enough quality," said Newcastle's new manager, who hailed a "strong performance" from his players. "But winning titles is not just about quality, it's about team spirit, luck with injuries and general good fortune. City have still got a lot to do, especially as they're looking to win the Premier League for the first time."
At least Mancini's defence can expect few tougher assignments than today's. "Andy Carroll was a constant menace," said Pardew. "If you put balls into the right areas not many centre-halves can deal with Andy."
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