ROBERTO MANCINI yesterday claimed Chelsea will “easily” retain the Premier League title this season.
After spending more than £100 million (€117.4m) on new players this summer, it was felt Manchester City would be able to provide some challenge for the championship, even if they eventually fell short.
Yet, after seeing his team fall seven points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti’s men, and then have his squad decimated by injury, Mancini has apparently thrown in the towel.
“Chelsea are probably going to win the Premier League title easily,” he said. “They are the best team in the Premier League at the moment.
“They are a strong team, who have been playing together for many years, with a fantastic manager. They have worked to reach this situation.”
Mancini’s remarks were baffling just five matches in to the season and on the eve of Chelsea’s visit to Eastlands to defend their 100% record.
Yet it seems Mancini does feel City are years behind Chelsea at present, even if they are making ground up.
“We must work hard to be their equals,” he said.
“We can be a strong club in one or two years. But we must improve, month after month, year after year.”
The City faithful might not be impressed by such talk. In midweek the Blues crashed out of the Carling Cup, a competition that many felt was the easiest way of ending a trophy drought that dates back to 1976.
Given the squad building they have undergone, few will shed any tears at Mancini’s complaints at being short of players. Yet when he was piecing together his squad this summer, he did so on the basis he was buying for the future, as well as the present, believing the day would come when City could hold their heads up alongside Chelsea this season.
“We have got strong players but we have also got young players,” he said.
“We have one of the youngest squads in the Premier League.
“David Silva and Yaya Toure played in the Champions League for many years, Mario Balotelli won it with Inter, Aleksandar Kolarov and Jerome Boateng are international players.
“We have bought strong players.”
However, Kolarov and Balotelli are out with long-term injuries after playing just one match. Boateng has not even managed that yet after aggravating a knee injury.
Emmanuel Adebayor should be fit to make the bench after a spell on the sidelines with a dead leg. However, with Shaun Wright-Phillips joining the injury list with a knee injury, Mancini cannot believe his squad has so rapidly been torn apart.
“I am disappointed we have all these injuries,” he said. “I only have 11 players who are 100% fit.”
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti laughed off Mancini’s suggestion the Blues will run away with the title.
“Every game is easy after you win 6-0. You can say it was easy then,’’ Ancelotti said.
Ancelotti believes City can have a say in this season’s title race.
“City have a possibility to win the title. They didn’t start so well but they have a possibility,’’ he said.
Ancelotti is without Salomon Kalou and Yossi Benayoun for three weeks following thigh and calf injuries sustained in the defeat by Newcastle. Frank Lampard is out with a hernia problem.
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