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By Doug Higginbottom, Wed 12 December 2012 16:22
Nice crisp day at Carrington with 19 players on show. Missing were Vinnie and Milner but good to see Rodders again plus Kolarov back but Nasri also missing. Maybe nursing the pulled muscle from trying to stop that free kick! Scapuzzi and Razak making up the squad today.It was a case of extra clothing for most of them and extra warm up, running routines to try to ensure no silly pulled muscles or other injuries. Mario with what looked like a big blue and white tea cosy on his bonce was the stand out but quite a few snoods as well. Just 2 in shorts trying to be brave. Even though they were on undersoil heated pitches there was a touch of frost lying on the top.Mancini's first real work today was with the full defensive set up and it was quite a long detailed session on tactical formation work as a unit. The others played in a large keep ball session with 5 or 6 on the outer plus 2 in the middle to pass with and the other 4 or 5 working hard to win the ball back and pressing hard as a unit. Looked like the pressing aspect was the key focus in this and no surprises to find Carlos leading the way in closing down players.It all switched round so that Mancini took the attacking players next as a group and had a lengthy spell with them clearly at times showing them the runs he was looking for as well as the angles for passes. Very much a day for technical, tactical work and while each group was being worked on the rest kept going with exercises .It was seriously not a day to just hang about. Milner had come out after a while and worked closely with Ivan on all sorts of exercises. Clearly not 100% over his problem yet but he seemed to be running,stopping,starting,turning pretty well to me. No idea if he will be ready for weekend. The word on Vinnie is that it's not too bad but nobody was making any commitments on a return date.And so into a match at the end but not the sort the sessions normally end with. For a start Mario was being worked on one to one with one of the coaches and in the game it was 7 v 9. The 7 being a defensive unit of 6 plus Carlos as the release ball against almost a full team. A really tough ask for the defending team but they did very well and from them Kolo was excellent and got my man of the session vote. Top pro and a very good defender. The only goal was from a Silva pass (cut back) for Barry to sidefoot into the far corner.