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All eyes on the ball for city’s mancini

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes the league table is irrelevant until February, ahead of his side’s home game with Stoke City on New Year’s Day.

City head into Tuesday’s match with Stoke seven points behind leaders Manchester United after both teams secured victories on Saturday.

Mancini’s side lost two of four league matches, including a defeat by United, in December. But they responded to a surprise 1-0 loss at Sunderland to pick up a 4-3 win at Norwich City that was all the more impressive due to an early red card for Samir Nasri.

Ever since the 3-2 loss to United, Mancini has maintained that, with half of the season remaining, there is no need to panic and that Alex Ferguson’s team’s Champions League commitments will affect them in the new year.

His task is set to grow even harder, with Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure departing for the Africa Cup of Nations after the FA Cup tie with Watford on Saturday.

But Mancini has set his sights on still being in touch with United by the time the Ivory Coast duo return, and the Italian is adamant that even United’s current advantage should not be seen as intimidating.

‘It’s not important to look at the table because it’s not final, but we need only to work, to win and then maybe we’ll look again at the table in February,’ he said.

‘With 10 players, it’s difficult. Norwich are a good team but we showed we are there for the title. We fight for every game. The guys were fantastic against Norwich.’

Edin Dzeko scored a brace in the victory at Norwich and the Bosnian international believes the victory showed City’s staying power.

‘There’s still a lot of games to play,’ said the former Wolfsburg striker. ‘We lost the last game against Sunderland. We were unlucky, we couldn’t find the goal, but against Norwich we fought from the first to the 90th minute.

‘Everyone wants to play and I was back (against Norwich) and I gave the maximum.’


MANCINI RULES OUT LESCOTT SALE

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has ruled out selling England defender Joleon Lescott during the January transfer window. Lescott has been linked with a move after being limited to just seven Premier League starts for the defending champions this season. The 30-year-old has slipped to fourth choice under Mancini, behind Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic and Kolo Toure despite being a regular in the England squad. Mancini appeared to rule out Lescott leaving after claiming he could not afford to sell any players in January. And despite having one of the biggest and expensive squads at his disposal, Mancini claims he cannot afford to allow Lescott, or anyone else, leave before the end of the season. “We can’t sell players. We don’t have enough players to play if we sell players,” said Mancini.
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