Manchester City v Newcastle United preview: Roberto Mancini still determined to finish strongly, despite conceding title to Manchester United

 

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini may have conceded the title to Manchester United but he insists there must be no let-up in intensity.

Having fallen 15 points behind United at the top of the Barclays Premier League with just nine games remaining, City's championship defence appears all but over.

But with the FA Cup still to play for, and the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham not out of the race for second, Mancini is determined to finish the campaign strongly.

The Italian said: “I think when you are a top team and you have good players, you should be very strong when you win or lose. This doesn't change.

“Also, when you can't win a title you can have other situations that you can improve.

“For this reason it is very important to do our best in the next nine games.

“We have the FA Cup and we have to get second position.

“I am sure Chelsea or Tottenham want to take second. We need to do our best for this reason, we want to stay there.

“If we take second position and have a chance to win the FA Cup - I think in the end, with all the problems we have had this year, I think this could be a good season.”

City, despite producing a consistency most clubs would envy, have not been able to repeat the exhilarating football of last season.

There have been a number of reasons for that, starting with the obvious draining effect last year's dramatic success had.

Mancini hoped to freshen his squad up with high-quality summer recruits but failed to land all his prime targets, most notably Robin van Persie.

What they missed out on has been abundantly clear with the prolific Dutchman making a huge difference to United's side.

United began to edge into a decisive lead after winning the derby at the Etihad Stadium in December and City, who have suffered injuries to key players, have been unable to respond.

United's form has been relentless but City have failed to apply enough pressure and gradually slipped away.

Mancini said: “We are so disappointed because we can't win the title but until now I think United have been better than us.

“They probably deserve to stay on the top.

“But we know in football it is impossible to win the title every year. The second year is probably the most difficult.”

Mancini, whose position has been the subject of recurring speculation, even claims it would not be a disaster if his side missed out on second, although he will not allow that to happen.

He said: “A disaster - no. But in football anything can happen if you don't play well, if you don't work hard.

“I don't think this can happen but we should pay attention.”

City return to action for the first time since a damaging 2-0 loss at Everton a fortnight ago as Newcastle visit Eastlands this weekend.

Mancini has continued to bemoan his team's shortcomings - most notably a failure to convert goalscoring chances - but trusts and expects his players to respond.

He said: “They have my trust. This is not a problem but I think sometimes we should do more and more.

“In the end we shot 22 times at goal (at Everton) and didn't score.

“This is the problem we have had this year, but we didn't play well.

“We have Chelsea four points behind, Tottenham five points. For this reason it is important we keep going hard, working well.”

Newcastle, who are through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, also need to finish strongly to end any lingering fear of relegation.

Mancini said: “Newcastle changed three or four players in the January market and I think they improved their team.

“Also they also have a good manager and they are doing very well in the Europa League.

“Every time we play against Newcastle it is difficult because they have good players.”

Captain Vincent Kompany, who irritated Mancini by playing for Belgium in midweek, looks set to return after an eight-week absence with a calf injury.

Kolo Toure, returning to prominence, has performed impressively in his place but with his contract due to expire at the end of the season his future remains uncertain.

Mancini said: “Every player wants to play every game and maybe for Kolo he thinks it could be difficult next year.

“If he thinks for him it is better to leave we can help him.

“Kolo is a positive guy and probably deserves to play. I can understand.”

Striker Sergio Aguero is also fit after three games out with knee trouble.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game