Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes that his team’s fighting spirit throughout the most recent edition of the Manchester derby demonstrates just how strong their title credentials are.
Defending champions City came from two goals down to tie the scores level as Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta struck from range to cancel out Wayne Rooney’s first-half brace.
Unfortunately for the Citizens, there was no fairy-tale ending as a late Robin van Persie free-kick secured all points for Manchester United with a dramatic 3-2 win.
While Mancini’s men are now trailing their bitter cross-town rivals by six points, the Italian has pointed to last season’s stunning late revival as proof that the title remains very much within City’s reach.
“For 20 minutes they didn’t touch the ball and the first chance they got, they scored a goal. We recovered very well and we dominated the second half. We wanted to win the game and we had chances,” Mancini was quoted by Sky Sports.
Despite his team finally losing a league match at home in almost two years and also surrendering their unbeaten league record thus far in the campaign, the manager added: “We have showed we are a really strong team and we can win this title again. We can’t win always.”
“There is a moment when you lose at home and it happened today. But the season is a long one. We won the league with the last touch of the ball last year. But we didn’t deserve to lose this game. We played very well.”
Meanwhile, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the excellent fight put on by both teams but expressed regret that the Red Devils had to face unwarranted hostility following away wins at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium.
“We were very determined to win but it’s unfortunate toward the end that the City fan runs on and throws coins at our players. I don’t think you need that,” Fergie told Sky Sports about the incident that left Rio Ferdinand bleeding towards the end of the match.
The Scot continued: “The same thing happened at Chelsea which was masked really by all the other things that happened. Two fantastic teams today, I think, and a fantastic game of football and it could do without that.”
Next Saturday, United will host struggling Sunderland at Old Trafford immediately following Manchester City’s early trip to Newcastle.