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."

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice