‘A derby is still a derby’: Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini insists game crucial despite title almost gone

By Pippa Field

The title race may be almost done and dusted, but Roberto Mancini insists tensions will still be high as his Manchester City side look to answer their critics.

Compared to last year’s season ending fireworks, this campaign looks set to be a United procession – they currently sit top with a comfortable 15-point cushion over City.

But explaining how no Manchester showdown should be sniffed at, Mancini highlighted Monday’s game as a way to salvage some pride after a disappointing season playing second fiddle to their neighbours.

“Even though the game is not important for the table or the title race, a derby is always a derby,” he said.

“It is important for us, for them. You have a pressure always.

“We don’t want to go there to lose the game, we want to go there to try to win.

“We want to show that we don’t deserve to stay 15 points behind.”

City’s last trip to Old Trafford saw the Blues claim their memorable 6-1 victory over their bitter rivals – a result that set them on the way to their title win.

But arguing such a scoreline was a freak occurrence, Mancini targeted another positive result to help boost their chances this time of securing second place in the league.

“[Another] 6-1 is impossible. This can happen every 100 years, no it’s impossible,” he said.

“But we want to get the second place, we know that we have another eight games where we play against United, we play against Tottenham and we have an FA Cup semi-final.

“The next three weeks will be very hard because we play every three games. I think probably the next two weeks will be crucial for the second place.”

A late Robin van Persie goal earlier this season helped United to a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Citizens at Eastlands.

Despite having only scored once in his last 12 games, the Dutchman’s early season goals nevertheless proved invaluable to the Reds wracking up an impressive goal difference.

City on the other hand have struggled in the goals department, boasting the meanest defence in the league but also hardly finding the back of the net themselves.

Accepting this had been their largest downfall this season, Mancini indicated changes ahead this summer to rectify the situation.

He added: “The difference is that we scored 20 goals less than last year, only this is the difference.

“We have the best defence but we are missing the goals.

“We want to improve our team and not like last year because we need to grow our team.

“We are a young team because it has only been two years that we have been fighting for the title. If you do not improve your team it is difficult.”

City are still without Micah Richards and Maicon through injury – although the pair recently completed a reserve match and are expected back within two weeks.

But striker Sergio Aguero is pushing for a start after making his comeback from a knee injury off the bench against Newcastle United last week.

Image courtesy of BBCSport, via YouTube with thanks

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