“Everybody knows what kind of manager he is,’’ De Jong said. “He has come from a country where defence is No 1 and he has brought that mentality from Italy. It took time but the main focus for him is to get the defence right because he knows we have enough quality to score goals — especially at home. That’s what he preaches: make sure we don’t concede.
“It is the mindset of every player. The belief is there. I don’t want to say the belief wasn’t there under Mark Hughes but with the manager coming from Italy defence is No 1. He spends more time on the training pitch with the defenders to get them to realise that a clean sheet is holy. You can see the message is getting through because we haven’t conceded a goal in the last three games and only two in six Premier League games.’’
If you add to those six games the two against Timişoara plus the win in Salzburg (all the games we have played our first choice defence), that's two goals conceded in nine games this season. One of those was certainly a gift, and Darren Bent's penalty might also have been too.
To those searching for evidence that Roberto Mancini has made a positive impact since his arrival (or rather, to those pretending that no such evidence exists), this is the simple and obvious response. It's not even to do with summer spending. Mancini has done this with Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Kolo Touré, Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards - all players Mark Hughes used.