Andy Cole has written off Manchester City's title chances.
The former striker, who played on both sides of the Manchester divide but is best remembered for his successful spell at United, has made his bold claim despite the Blues' rise to joint top of the Barclays Premier League table.
Victory at West Ham saw Mario Balotelli substituted to stop him getting himself sent off - followed a day later by confirmation that Carlos Tevez wanted to leave, triggering a downward spiral in the club's relationship with their captain.
A strongly-worded statement released by the South American last night revealed that his relationship with senior City officials - believed to be chief executive Garry Cook and football administration officer Brian Marwood - had broken down beyond repair.
City are privately indignant of such claims, questioning exactly what Tevez's issues are given his much-publicised anguish at being separated from his two young daughters.
It all paints a pretty sorry picture, which Cole is convinced will lead to their championship challenge fading.
"There are a lot of problems there," he said.
"Anyone who has any common sense and understands football knows that.
"You can't have disputes with the manager at such regular intervals.
"Every other week someone is coming out saying they are not happy. You can't run a tight ship like that.
"You don't see it at Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea."
Tevez has said there are no problems in his relationship with Mancini, although that did not prevent him triggering a touchline row with the Italian when he was substituted near the end of City's win over Bolton last weekend.
City are more inclined to take a view that Tevez's position has shifted dramatically since the club refused to engage in talks aimed at extending an already massive contract - claimed to be in excess of £250,000-a-week by former player Rodney Marsh.
As Tevez still has three-and-a-half years of his present deal to run, City's stance is understandable.
When the player returns from a short break in Tenerife tomorrow, he might be under pressure to state exactly what his problem is, although given the closeness of his relationship with advisor Kia Joorabchian, hoping for another change of mind - such as the one United's Wayne Rooney completed after his own tumultuous week in October - may be fruitless.
City would need to get in a replacement for Tevez pretty quickly given Emmanuel Adebayor seems certain to leave next month after not even making Mancini's squad at West Ham on Saturday, when fellow striker Balotelli showed his temperament cannot be trusted either.
For Cole, this all has a destabilising effect, despite the excellent recent form of David Silva and Yaya Toure.
"There are loads of issues," he reflected.
"It would be difficult for any team to win the title under those circumstances.
"If you have so many big players in one team who are not playing, it is going to cause you problems.
"You have to deal with them."Reuse content