Manchester: Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart admitted his side should have mounted a challenge for the English Premier League (EPL) title this year and must now accept the criticism coming their way after falling short.

Man City's Joe Hart
Man City's Joe Hart  

Defending champions City were level with Chelsea at the top of the standings in January but have since fallen away, dropping 21 points from 14 games this year.

They are currently fourth in the standings with 64 points, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.

"We are not in the place where we wanted to be — we wanted to be really challenging for the title like we've done in previous years. We've got to be honest," Hart was quoted as saying by yesterday.

"We've let ourselves down at key moments. It's a difficult league to win. The two times we've won it, it's gone right to the wire."

After winning the league under former coach Roberto Mancini in 2012, City struggled the following year, finishing 11 points behind champions Manchester United.

Current coach Manuel Pellegrini's side look set to finish even further behind this time around, but Hart does not believe that City's players have been unable to handle the added pressure that comes with defending a title.

"It's just a difficult league to win. I don't think the champions label makes it any more difficult or any easier.

"If we could blame that, it would be the easy way out. We just haven't performed in certain moments," said the 28-year-old goalkeeper.