MANCHESTER: Roberto Mancini challenged his squad to finish the job after a win over Manchester United left his side just two wins away from the Premier League crown.
A 1-0 win over United saw Manchester City return to the top of the table on goal difference, which now stands at eight, and maximum points from their remaining games at Newcastle and at home to QPR will almost certainly seal the club’s first title since 1968.
However, as City’s fans and players celebrated after a raucous title-decider at Eastlands hyped as the biggest match in Premier League history, Mancini’s eyes remained firmly on the prize.
“It is not finished,” Mancini warned his players after Vincent Kompany’s header clinched a famous win. “If we think it’s finished, we’ll be making a big mistake. It’s important that we’re on the top now but it’s more important to be there after May 13.”
Monday’s triumph capped a remarkable turnaround in the title race, which appeared to be done and dusted as recently as April 8 when United went eight points clear after City’s defeat at Arsenal. But a disastrous run of results from United means the destiny of the title is now back in City’s hands.
Mancini warned his players that United’s stumble illustrated how quickly fortunes can change.
“Football’s crazy. We were on the top for 28 games and I think we deserve another chance. But in two games, anything can happen.”
Ferguson embroiled in clash
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had earlier been embroiled in a touchline bust-up with Mancini which saw the two managers being separated by the fourth official and staff from both clubs.
The pair clashed after Ferguson took exception to a rough challenge on Danny Welbeck by Nigel De Jong.
“He was out on that touchline the whole game haranguing the referee, the fourth official and the linesmen,” said Ferguson. “The minute I come off the bench for a bad tackle, he was out again. He’s been complaining about referees but he won’t be complaining tonight that’s for sure.”
Ferguson had no complaints with the defeat, however, and said his side was paying the price for blowing leads in their 4-4 draw with Everton on April 22.
“You can look back at all sorts of games but you’ve got to look at the Everton one. That was a ridiculous performance for the last seven minutes to lose two goals. That’s maybe cost us the league.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.