'It is too late for Manchester City to catch Manchester United'
Roberto Mancini claims his side are still out of title contention despite an unexpected slip by Manchester United last night.
Manchester City thrashed West Bromwich Albion 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to move within five points of United as the Premier League leaders slumped to a shock loss at Wigan Athletic.
City showed why they were once firm title favourites as Carlos Tevez scored for the first time in 11 months, Sergio Aguero struck twice and David Silva capped a return to form with a fourth.
Despite that, with just five games to go, even though one of them is against United, Mancini feels it is too little too late.
The Italian, who claimed he was not playing mind games, said: "United are a fantastic team and I don't think they can lose five points.
"I fight always, every day, and also my team but now I think it is too late I think they have fantastic spirit, United. We don't have the same spirit and for this reason I think this is very difficult."
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, did not seem to concern his side's lead had been trimmed to five points.
"A couple of months ago City were something like five to one on and we were well behind them in terms of goal difference and points," Ferguson said. "We have to take some credit that we have got ourselves back into the race.
City were without injured talisman Yaya Toure and the suspended Mario Balotelli but played with a verve reminiscent of their free-flowing, early-season best.
Aguero was outstanding, taking his tally for the season to 26, but it was his fellow Argentinian Tevez who grabbed the headline goal.
Tevez was making his first start since returning to training following the conclusion of his infamous dispute with the club.
Mancini said: "I am pleased with all the players because it was important to come back and play like one month ago and to score four goals.
"I am happy for Carlos because he scored a goal. He is not ready to play 90 minutes, it is difficult. If Carlos continues to play he can improve his performance."
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Published: April 12, 2012 04:00 AM