Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini insists his team can still retain their Premier League title despite falling nine points behind Manchester United.
City were held 2-2 by Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, wasting the opportunity to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to seven points in the wake of United’s 1-0 victory at Fulham 24 hours earlier.
Ultimately, after goals from Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard, City, who had led through Edin Dzeko, required a spectacular individual effort from Sergio Aguero 12 minutes from time to collect a point. But despite the mounting odds, Mancini remained defiant, citing last season when City won the league so memorably by recovering an eight-point disadvantage over the final six games. “The championship is not over, absolutely not, because of last season and also two years ago,” said Mancini.
“Chelsea were nine points behind and they were only two points behind when they went to United in the final week. I don’t think it is finished. There is room for mistakes. I think we probably need to win all of our games, but that can happen sometimes.
“I’m disappointed because we didn’t play well. Liverpool played better first half. Today we didn’t play well. The last month we played well in all the games. Today we were so nervous, I don't know why.
“I think that, like last year, we recovered eight points in six games. I don’t know why this cannot happen this year. The season is long, three months to go, and United have to play FA Cup and Champions League. We are confident.”
Despite the fact that Dzeko and Aguero both scored goals — the latter one of genius — Mancini was critical of his strike force.
“Very few players could have scored that,” said Mancini of the equaliser.
“It was a fantastic goal. But Sergio and Edin should play better. Today we didn’t play well.”
City received some inadvertent good news on the day of the game, however, when they learned that they will soon be re-joined by influential midfield player Yaya Toure after his country, the Ivory Coast, were knocked out of the African Cup of Nations at the quarter-final stage by Nigeria.
For Liverpool, the highlight of a fine afternoon was the performance of Sturridge who, despite suffering a first half thigh injury which may rule him out of England’s midweek friendly with Brazil, was in inspired form against his old club.
Sturridge aid: “I’ve not been here very long, it’s my first few games and I’ve lacked fitness. But I feel sharp in playing and training, more like myself. There’s more to come from me.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was upbeat. “That was an outstanding performance, absolutely brilliant,” he said.
Gerrard is England’s player of the year
Steven Gerrard was on Sunday named England’s player of the year for 2012 after winning over 40 percent of a fans’ vote, the FA announced. The 32-year-old Liverpool star edged out Danny Welbeck and Ashley Cole to clinch the award. “I still feel fresh, looking forward to the next game as much as my debut,” said the England captain.