Millennium Post

Title race is still open: Mancini

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini on Friday said he hoped rivals United go all the way in the Champions League as it would boost the Blues’ Premier League hopes.

City head into their trip to Southampton on Saturday nine points behind Alex Ferguson’s side, who host Everton on Sunday, amid doubts that they will be able to pull back the deficit and retain the title they won last year, with 13 games to play.

But despite two draws in their last two outings, Mancini refused to write off his team’s chances and believes a Champions League run for United  which starts on Wednesday with a last 16 first leg at Real Madrid can help City in the league.

‘If Manchester United draw or lose (at Southampton), the title race is re-opened. It is clear we need to do better than in the last two games,’ he told a news conference.

‘It is normal when you play in the Champions League against Real Madrid that you can lose your strength in this game.

‘We support Manchester United to go through in the Champions League. At the end of the day, if United win all the games from now to the end in the Premier League they deserve to win.

‘This is football. But I am sure we have another chance.’

 The Italian coach has been the target of renewed speculation about his future, despite signing a new five-year contract in the close season. But he insisted that he would still be at the Etihad Stadium next season.

‘These are stupid things. We have 13 games (left), the season is long. ( The situation) can change in two or three games. This is our focus, not to talk about new players. We buy a striker, we sell a defender. This is not true.’

Asked whether he will stay on, Mancini added: ‘Yes, yes. Why not?’

Since arriving in northwest England at the end of 2009, Mancini has won the FA Cup and the Premier League title in his first two full seasons.

He insisted that he does not have to win the league again for the current campaign to be judged a success, as he thinks City have proven they have been better than both United and European champions Chelsea domestically throughout his period in charge.

‘I think that we should work for this. Because like last year where no one believed we could win the title, in the end we won. This year could be the same,’ he added.

‘We are a strong team. We were unlucky because we lost two or three players in January for the African Cup. Also, if we believe in our job, we can do this.

‘I think it is important we are there, on the top always, we fight for the title every year. If another team is better than you, you should accept this.

‘But I don’t think in these two years there is a team that has played better than us. City has been better.’


Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson on Friday criticised the Football Association for breach of confidentiality after England under-21 coach Stuart Pearce revealed that Phil Jones had shingles. Earlier this week, Pearce said Jones would miss the friendly clash with Sweden as he was suffering from shingles, annoying Ferguson, who reacted angrily last September after England senior team coach Roy Hodgson said Ashley Young had a knee problem. ‘Phil Jones should be OK, irrespective of Stuart Pearce coming out and declaring he had shingles which was thought was in doctor’s confidence,’ Ferguson told a news conference. ‘We’re disappointed in that but it (shingles) is nothing serious a mild condition that has surfaced but he should be OK, hopefully.’ Ferguson said such statements about players was ‘something we have to address’, blaming the size of the FA for news leaking out. ‘In this case it was the confidence of our doctor and their doctor and it shouldn’t have gone any further. There’s no need for me to speak to Stuart Pearce,’ he added.


Jack Wilshere has insisted there is more to come after the Arsenal midfielder showed signs he is back to his best in England’s midweek international friendly win over Brazil.Wilshere’s performance in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory at Wembley  England’s first win over five-times world champions Brazil in 23 years drew widespread praise from team-mates and pundits alike. Now the 21-year-old midfielder will look to help Arsenal take all three points away to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, as the visitors try to reclaim a place in the top four of the Premier League.  Wilshere maintained there was room for improvement. ‘I feel my form is getting better and better,’ he said. ‘I am never happy with where I am. I always try to improve and work hard in training. ‘I always want to keep my performances up for my club and then whenever I get called up for England.’
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