Mancini: February key month in title race

Roberto Mancini insists last week’s Manchester derby proved City are a better team than United.

Though Alex Ferguson’s side emerged victors thanks to Robin van Persie’s injury-time free-kick, allowing United to stride six points clear at the Premier League summit, Mancini felt his side were the superior outfit.

The Italian believes the championship race could turn City’s way once United return to Champions League action, although before then he has to cope with an injury list which will be compounded by the absence of Yaya and Kolo Toure at the African Nations Cup next month.

“We showed last week that we are better than Manchester United,” said Mancini.

“They do have more experience than us. They don’t have any problems when they are behind. They continue to work.

“We should do the same. It only depends on us whether we can recover these points.

“But the season is long and everything might change in February when the Champions League starts again.”

Mancini remains resolute in the belief he has in City’s squad, even though they have rarely hit the heights which drew so much praise at the start of last season.

“Probably it is true,” he said. “But we are only six points behind and in second position.

“We don’t have a big problem. I still believe in these players and we do have a chance.”

Yet there are issues for Mancini to address.

For a start he has virtually abandoned hope of persuading the Toure brothers to remain in Manchester rather than report for Ivory Coast duty.

Of more immediate concern, Vincent Kompany’s hamstring injury looks certain to rule him out of today’s trip to Newcastle.

“We will try but it is difficult,” said Mancini, adding the Belgian had “probably a two per cent chance” of playing.

Then there are reports of dressing room unrest, specifically rows with both Joe Hart and Mario Balotelli immediately after the United defeat.

“It is usual for me to talk to the players,” said Mancini.

“Also sometimes you can have a discussion. But I prefer to keep it in the dressing room, not like some other people who talk outside. For me it is not like this. We know where these stories come from.”

For his part, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes a home victory against City could ignite their stuttering season.

Pardew said: “We are having a tough run, we don’t disguise that, but the work ethic is there. One big result, which could happen this weekend, could change a lot of the picture and we could find ourselves in a good position in the league.”

City, meanwhile, have announced annual losses of £97.9 million (€120m).

Although the sum is still enormous, it is less than half the £197.5m (€242m) announced 12 months ago.

And with City reporting turnover in the 2011-12 season of £231.1m (€284m), the highest in the club’s history, it underlines the rapid progress being made by the Premier League champions.

Although failure to progress from the Champions League group stage has had an obvious impact on turnover, this year and last, the club are still delighted with the performance.

And they are confident even the huge losses confirmed yesterday will not have an impact on their ability to meet Uefa’s strict Financial Fair Play guidelines.


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