MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) –
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini still insists the Premier League title race is over despite several of his players believing otherwise as they prepare to face Wolves on Sunday.
City could find themselves eight points behind leaders Manchester United before they take to the pitch at Molineux should Sir Alex Ferguson’s men overcome Everton at Old Trafford earlier in the day.
A number of City players have come out this week to claim the race for the title is still very much on ahead of their trip to Wolves, including England goalkeeper Joe Hart, but Mancini continues with his stance that United have already secured their 20th English league crown.
Mancini puts City’s title bid apparently failing down to the recent injury of Sergio Aguero who missed their draws with Sunderland and Stoke last month – two games which allowed United to open up a five point gap on their rivals.
“I meant it (that the title race is over), I think that for me I think it will be very difficult. The situations that have happened in the last three or four games have made it very difficult for us,” Mancini said.
“We should go for our way only, I’m staying with my opinion about the title for the next few weeks, that it has gone.
“There were some mistakes, but when we lost Sergio for those two games that was a key moment. We drew those games, if we had had Sergio we would have a better chance.”
Former Wolves defender Joleon Lescott returns to Molineux on Sunday knowing victory for City could relegate his old team.
And while the England international, who joined Everton from Wolves before moving to City, has a lot to thank his mentor Terry Connor for, Lescott won’t be looking to do his struggling former team any favours as City hope to keep the pressure up on United.
He said: “I owe a lot to everyone connected with Wolves, none more so than Terry Connor the manager. When Terry first arrived, I was just coming out of the youth team and was just going into the reserves.
“He was the development coach at the time and I still believe he has been the single biggest influence on my career so I hope he does well and has the chance to turn the club’s fortunes around.
“Once the whistle goes on Sunday, of course, it’s all down to being professional and we need to go there and take three points and keep the pressure on United with the derby coming up.
“We can’t afford any slip-ups and obviously I wish we were going there and a win for us didn’t affect their status, but that’s just how it is.”
Wolves could be relegated this weekend if they are condemned to a ninth home defeat in a row and QPR beat Tottenham, with interim manager Connor still without a victory since replacing Mick McCarthy in February.
And the problems piled up for Connor this week after Wayne Hennessey, the Wales international goalkeeper, was ruled out for six months with a serious knee injury.
Dorus de Vries, signed from Swansea on a free transfer in the summer, is poised to make the debut from hell against Mancini’s title chasers but is on a mission to make up for lost time.
The Dutchman has only made five appearances in cup competitions but will face City and is determined to seize his chance.
“We have four games left which might be an opportunity for me to show myself and test myself at Premier League level,” he said.
“I have been working and training hard and I’m looking forward to playing. This is what I have trained for all season and now I might get some minutes on the pitch.”