Manchester City not good enough to win Champions League admits Roberto Mancini


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The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini will not give up on Manchester City's Champions League challenge but claims they are not good enough to win the competition.

The Barclays Premier League leaders now face an uphill task to reach the knockout stage of Europe's premier club competition after a shattering defeat at Napoli on Tuesday.

Mancini's side must now beat Bayern Munich in their final Group A fixture and hope already-eliminated Villarreal can claim their first points of the competition against Napoli to progress.

Mancini said: "We hope we can beat Bayern Munich and Napoli can lose a point at Villarreal but I think we should be realistic.

"I don't think we have a team to win the Champions League because Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, (AC) Milan are maybe better and they have more experience than us in the Champions League."

City will drop into the Europa League if results go against them in the last round of group games on December 7.

Mancini is philosophical about that prospect and has dismissed suggestions the second-tier competition could be a hindrance to his side's domestic title bid.

The Italian maintains he was not disappointed with his side's performance at the Stadio San Paolo earlier this week, just the result.

He said: "I hope we can stay in the Champions League but if we go into the Europa League we will try to win it.

"It is not like the Champions League but for us it is an important trophy.

"I hope we can stay, because after the Champions League (group stage) it is strange.

"If you go into the second stage maybe you can meet APOEL Nicosia or Bayer Leverkusen and you can go through - but I don't know what can happen.

"We did everything and I think we did a good game."

City switch their attention back to domestic matters with a trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

The Blues have not won at Anfield since 2003 but will travel there this weekend with a five-point lead at the top of the table after winning 11 of their 12 games.

City also won nine games in succession in all competitions after losing at Bayern Munich two months ago and are hoping to make a similar recovery now, although Mancini is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "Liverpool will be a very hard game on Sunday. Liverpool are a strong team.

"In my opinion - they are 12 points under us but I think they have a team that can win the Premier League.

"The Barclays Premier League is difficult, it is long and hard. We have played only 12 games.

"The squads now at Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea are why they can fight for the title."

City could come up against their former striker Craig Bellamy, who left the Etihad Stadium for Liverpool in August.

The Wales forward shone for City two seasons ago but was loaned out to Cardiff last year and allowed to leave in the summer after being told he did not feature in Mancini's plans.

Mancini said: "I am happy for him.

"I watched the game against Chelsea and he played very well. If he is happy, I am happy for him."

Mancini is now in a position of strength at City owing to last season's FA Cup win, Champions League qualification and this season's brilliant Premier League form.

Yet the former Inter Milan boss has needed time to prove himself and there have been times in the near two years since his appointment that his position has been questioned.

For that reason he believes it is unfair that his Chelsea rival Andre Villas-Boas should be under pressure after a bad run of form.

Chelsea brought Villas-Boas in from Porto in the summer but have made their worst start to a season since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

Last week's loss at Liverpool left the Londoners fifth in the Premier League and Champions League progress is not guaranteed after a midweek defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.

Mancini said: "I think when you are a new coach or manager - I think he needs time.

"In two or three months it is difficult to change (things) - maybe he is a different manager from Carlo Ancelotti.

"I think every manager needs time."