Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists his team will use tonight’s derby to show they are still Manchester United’s equals even though the Premier League title is destined for Old Trafford.
With United 15 points clear of second placed City, Mancini has been forced to concede his side’s reign as champions is all but over. Yet there is still plenty to play for at Old Trafford, with United looking to move closer to confirming their title triumph and City desperate to inflict a bloody nose on their bitter rivals.
City supporters will never let United fans forget their 6-1 win at Old Trafford last season and another victory on enemy territory would at least partially ease the pain of surrendering the title and prove they can hold their own against the champions-elect.
“To win 6-1 is impossible,” Mancini said. “This can happen every 100 years. But we don’t deserve to stay 15 points behind United. They play well, they win a lot of games, the last time they lost was at Norwich (in November), so they deserve to stay on the top.
“But it is not a true table. Now we have eight games left. If we play well, we win a lot of these games, maybe we can reduce this gap. This should be our target.
“I don’t know at this moment what my approach will be. To play there is difficult but there is not a big difference between us and them,” he said.
With the title gone, Mancini has set his sights on finishing second place and winning the FA Cup — his team face Chelsea in the semi-finals at Wembley next Sunday.
Even though his side’s huge advantage at the top of the table has taken some of the drama out of the latest Manchester derby, United manager Alex Ferguson does not believe the clash will lack passion.
“It shouldn’t be any different really. I think there will still be a great intensity about the game,” Ferguson said. Ferguson was asked to explain why City have not provided more of a challenge this season, but the United manager preferred to focus on qualities of his own players rather than criticise Mancini’s men.