After slumping to a 2-2 draw against Liverpool yesterday afternoon, Manchester City have fallen 9 points behind in the race for the Premier League title. Despite this, Roberto Mancini insists that the fight to regain their crown is not over.
The City boss believes United could choke when the pressure is on, just as they did last season.
“The title isn’t over, no. Absolutely no way – I believe we can still win it because of last season, and also for the way we have played this season,” he insisted.
“Two games and the Championship is open again. I don’t see why this can’t happen again this year. Last year we caught up eight points in six games, this year we still have 12 games.
“Probably now we need to win most if not all of the games, but this is football, it is not finished and we are confident it can happen.”
Mancini targeted the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on 6 April as he said: “For us it is important to play the derby game only two or three points behind.
Is the title genuinely still within the Champions reach? Last season’s display was more than impressive, but can they really replicate this?
United’s old adversaries, Liverpool, have certainly given them a helpful push towards winning their 20th Premier League crown. But, as we witnessed last season, Ferguson’s men have choked under pressure in the past. Anyone tempted to predict this season’s outcome should recall how City clawed back 8 points in the last six games of the 2011/12 campaign. However, it seems the situation this time round is noticeably different.
If we look at both teams’ upcoming fixtures, Manchester United arguably have an easier set of matches. Ferguson’s men are set to play Everton (home), QPR (away), Norwich (home), West Ham (away) and Reading (home). Meanwhile, City are preparing to face Southampton (away), Chelsea (home), Aston Villa (away), Wigan (home) and Everton (away). United will have to lose three of their last 13 games, while City win all theirs, with Mancini himself admitting they need to win at least 11 of those, and the next derby is at Old Trafford on 6 April
However, an extended Champions League run for United could change this dramatically. If the Red Devils successfully progress to the latter stages of the competition, we could see a slip of focus away from the Premier League. Obviously, there’s a very limited chance of this actually happening. Ferguson’s experience will make him more than aware of this occurring, eliminating any problems immediately.
The Robin Van Persie factor has been talked about non-stop throughout the season. Mancini previously stated the Dutchman would prove to be the difference between winning and losing the title. In this case, he seems to be correct. The 29-year-old has contributed scored 18 times in 25 appearances this season; at times he has singlehandedly won games for his side. United are in a wonderful position as it stands. Even if RVP fails to perform, Ferguson can rely on Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez to provide goals.
Ultimately, United have been over this course and distance before and it is becoming increasingly difficult to see them slipping up again with the pain of their last failure so fresh in the memory. Despite City’s miraculous comeback last campaign, I can’t envisage a similar scenario occurring this season.
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