Roberto Mancini is sure Manchester City can win the title next season.
The Blues recorded a 2-1 win at neighbours United on Monday evening, but even with these three points in the bag, they remain 12 behind the Reds with just seven matches left. Mancini accepts there is little chance of his side retaining the title they won in such dramatic circumstances last May, but he is confident they will pose a far sterner challenge next term.
“We know that we can win the title next year,” the Italian told Sky Sports. “We need to continue to play like this for next season. We can’t lose Yaya (Toure), (Sergio) Aguero and (Vincent) Kompany together. We are not so strong that we can lose three or four players together. If we lose one time Aguero or one time Yaya (it is okay), but three or four together is very difficult for us.”
After a goalless first half City took the lead at Old Trafford through James Milner on 51 minutes, but this lasted just eight minutes before Kompany deflected a Phil Jones header past Joe Hart. With 12 minutes left on the clock, substitute Aguero showed a burst of pace in the penalty box to glide past three defenders and shoot powerfully beyond David De Gea.
City’s win is almost certain to be too late to launch a bid for the title, but there is still much for their fans to celebrate: having won this fixture 6-1 last season, this is the first time in 41 years they have won successive matches at Old Trafford. And with an FA Cup semi-final date against Chelsea on the horizon on Sunday, they could even end the campaign with more silverware.
As for United, the earliest they can clinch their record-extending 20th title, assuming City now go on a winning streak, is on 22 April, when they welcome Aston Villa.