Spoils are shared in Manchester

Mancini rejects criticism of tactics after City and United divide the spoils in derby

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini last night brushed aside accusations that his side are over-cautious and insisted that a point gained from Manchester United proved his team are inching closer to overhauling Sir Alex Ferguson's club.

Mancini's determination to stick with three holding midfielders at home to an injury-hit United made for minimal opportunities in one of the dourest Manchester derbies for years. But Mancini, whose side have only 15 Premier League goals this season, brushed aside critics including United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who said United were the only side with ambition.

"It's not important for me if I'm criticised," Mancini said, after television pundits Graeme Souness and Ruud Gullit also accused his side of negativity. "It's a good point for me. I think we are improving from last year. I prefer one point tonight than no points like last season when we scored a few goals."

Van der Sar, whose side are now four points adrift of the summit after Chelsea's 1-0 home win against Fulham, said: "City did not really come forward and leave their defensive position. They were clearly aiming for a point whereas we really wanted to win. I did not have much to do apart from a free-kick and if the game had lasted longer we might have got more."

This was the first 0-0 draw in a Manchester derby since Kevin Keegan's side drew a blank at Old Trafford in November 2004. But Mancini, whose side are now seven points off Chelsea in fourth place, insisted the gulf is being closed between the clubs.

"We are getting closer [to United]," he said. "We tried to win because we want to win. When you play every few days the players are tired. We are getting close. We need more time. We did not have many chances to score but it's a derby and things like this can happen. Last year in four games there were I don't know how many goals. This year – nothing."

Ferguson suggested that the focus on what had been the most keenly anticipated match of the season might have contributed to the stalemate in which a low shot from Patrice Evra and a Dimitar Berbatov scissor-kick were the highlights.

"In the build up to the game, there was maybe too much tension to be as open a match as many people thought there was going to be," Ferguson said. "I think City are difficult to beat on their own ground. That was obvious from the way they set their stall out in the second half.

"We controlled the game and some of our football was very good. We had good composure on the ball but we needed to make chances. That's disappointing. We don't count draws coming away from home as our target, our target is to win the game and I think we had enough possession to do that. Chelsea came here and lost and if City had not had a man sent off early on against Arsenal the result could have been different. They are obviously going to be difficult to beat on their own ground."

Chelsea's win came courtesy of a goal on the half-hour from Michael Essien, who was later sent off. Arsenal also won, 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, with goals in the first and last minutes by Marouane Chamakh though Liverpool's brief rally was halted during a dire 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic.

For United, who have not lost since Chelsea's title-defining win at Old Trafford 221 days ago, the draw extends their games without defeat to 25 – though they lost both full-backs, Rafael da Silva and Evra, to injury within 20 second-half minutes.

City's Nigel de Jong put in a commanding performance, though Mancini also singled out Carlos Tevez – who he said might have contributed more had City not been denied the services of Mario Balotelli, whose three-game ban is one Mancini is bitterly unhappy about. "Mario can play left wing, attack and defend. For me, this [ban] is not a correct decision," he said. "It's incredible. I do not agree with the decision but it's finished now. We can do nothing."

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
news

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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