LIVERPOOL: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini admitted he was to blame for the costly defeat that provided Manchester United with renewed hope in the Premier League title race after his team crashed to a 1-0 defeat against Everton.
Mancini insisted he got it all wrong as Darron Gibson’s first league goal since March 2010 helped Everton clinch the narrow win, enabling United to move level on points with City and ensured that they have only won once in their last 21 visits to Everton.
“We didn’t prepare well,” said Mancini. “I’m very disappointed with my mistake. We’re still at the top and there are 15 games to go. It’s important that we win the game at home on Saturday.
“We didn’t deserve to lose the game but it was because of my mistake that we did.”
Fergie targets derby win
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to pinpoint the Manchester derby in April as the cornerstone of his team’s attempt to defend their title.
A 2-0 win over Stoke, courtesy penalties from Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, ensured that United are now within six goals of their rivals at the top of the table. With Ferguson expecting to welcome back the injured trio of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Ashley Young for Sunday’s visit to Chelsea, the manager was happy with the current status quo.
“The win is significant, but it was still only the last day of January,” said Ferguson. “I always see March as the important month and we’ve got City in April. I’m pleased about our performance. We kept our composure and were patient.”
Chelsea refuse to give up
Elsewhere, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas insisted his team was capable of closing the gap on the top three despite slipping seven points behind third-placed Tottenham who outplayed Wigan 3-1.
A stoppage-time own-goal from Neil Taylor spared Chelsea’s blushes after Scott Sinclair had given Swansea City the lead. Chelsea have now taken only two points from their last two games.
“It’s a gap that’s grown,” said Villas-Boas. “So, we go back to where we were before. A seven-point gap is nothing.Tottenham are still within our reach and let’s see what we can do from here.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish hailed the professionalism of his side after they crushed Wolves 3-0.
“I thought it was a very professional, high quality performance from the players,” said Dalglish. “They applied themselves well and got what they deserved.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2012.
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