Where have we heard this one before?: Roberto Mancini says Manchester United are favourites for the title

Manchester City manager says rivals have advantage in the title race, echoing last season's dramatic run-in

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The Independent Football

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says Manchester United are the favourites to win the Premier League title.

Speaking ahead of this Sunday's derby, which pits the league's top two teams against one another, the City boss also believes his side are the underdogs for the match at the Etihad.

Mancini said: "We can't change the history. We are here (for) only two years, playing together, and they are used to playing this game for the title race for 20 years.

"This is normal when you play against a team that won everything in the last 15 years.

"You can't change this in two or three years and you need more time. For this reason, they have a small advantage."

When asked specifically about this season's title battle, Mancini said: "In this moment United are favourites but the season is long.

"They were a strong team and (then) they bought (Robin) Van Persie and (Shinji) Kagawa. They put another player that scores 25 goals into the squad."

Mancini's comments echo the stance he took during last season's title run-in. Throughout the campaign, and even when City led the table, the Italian insisted that United were the favourites for the Premier League crown.

Some considered his assertions as nothing than mind games, looking to put the pressure on Manchester United and alleviate that affecting his players. Whether his comments were loaded or not, they worked, with City clinching the title on the final day of the season.

Talking about this weekend's game, Mancini says victory is much more important to City than it is United.

"They can lose - they have three points more. We have three points less and we can't lose.

"But it is a derby, everything can happen, like last year. I think they are better than us in this moment but a derby is a derby.

"It is not the season because we have seven months after but it is important."