By IAN LADYMAN
PUBLISHED: 22:50, 7 April 2013 | UPDATED: 07:37, 8 April 2013
Roberto Mancini believes teams in the Barclays Premier League are running scared of Manchester United.
Manchester City manager Mancini has already conceded defeat in the title race as the defending champions head to Old Trafford for tonight’s derby 15 points behind United.
But the Italian has stirred things up by claiming teams in the top flight do not play against United with the same hunger, belief or intensity as they do when they face City.
Mancini said: ‘No one plays well against United because they only play with fear. Every team that plays against United plays very soft because they think this game is difficult, that they can’t beat them. It is not true.
‘If you play strong against United, you can beat them. I don’t think they don’t play 100 per cent but their mentality is poor in those games against United. They think they can do nothing but instead I don’t think that is true. If you play with mentality, in football you can beat every team.’
Mancini faces a big week. Tonight’s game is followed on Sunday by the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley.
At United, Sir Alex Ferguson and his players will scoff at Mancini’s claims that the rest of the Premier League do not provide them with stiff enough competition in a year that could yet see them amass a record number of points.
Mancini, though, is convinced that United’s reputation gives them a head start.
He said: ‘United have been a strong team for a long time. For the other teams they play against, it is difficult.
‘United are strong now because of this importance as a team, as a club. We are young as a team and we don’t have the same importance like United in this moment. Maybe in 10 years it will be the same. The history is very important.
‘I think we need to improve as a team, as a club, but for this we need more years. We can’t do this in two years.
‘For 10 years, if we improve, if we win every year, probably it will be the same also for us.’
Tonight’s game is all about saving face as City try to make the league table look more respectable but Mancini still feels the season could have panned out differently if he had been allowed to buy the players he wanted last summer.
Asked if the title race would have been closer if City had performed better in the transfer market,
Mancini said: ‘Yeah, yeah, sure 100 per cent. Probably we would be on the top and could win the second title and probably we would be in the Champions League quarter-final.
‘We had a chance to get important players, players that this year did make a difference to their teams.
‘We had a chance to get three or four players who could improve our team but we didn’t in the end. Now it is finished.’
The last time City played at Old Trafford – in October 2011 – they came away with a famous 6-1 win.
Mancini believes that will never happen again but is still pained by the way United won 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium before Christmas.
He said: ‘The 6-1 is in the history. We can talk about this for another 200 years but it is impossible to do this result another time. I think we know we can beat them because they are not better than us. This is sure, 100 per cent. Also, though, they deserve to win this title.
‘We can go there and think “ok, we beat them 6-1 and it will be the same” but every game will be difficult. ‘The game we played at Etihad Stadium, we deserved to win but we lost.
‘Like them, we are a strong team. There is no difference between us. That winning goal at the Etihad was important for them and for us but after that game we lost another two or three games or we drew some games where we deserved to win.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2305463/Manchester-United-v-Manchester-City-Teams-scared-Sir-Alex-Fergusons-says-Roberto-Mancini.html#ixzz2PrQNUsTN
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