TV times are wrecking Manchester City”s title hopes, moans Mancini
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini accused the Premier League of jeopardising his side’s title prospects after seeing arch rivals Manchester United draw level with them at the top of the table.
City’s once-commanding lead had already been whittled away following their first defeat of the season at Chelsea, and it was down to goal difference after the 0-0 draw at West Bromwich.
The City manager says he is not unduly perturbed by his side’s failure to score for the first time. He is, however, agitated by a new year fixture schedule that gives his side barely 48 hours to prepare for a clash with Liverpool.
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‘I’m disappointed only because we play on the Sunday, January 1, away to Sunderland at 3pm, and then against Liverpool on the third,’ said Mancini. ‘Liverpool play on the Friday night, the 30th, at home to Newcastle and then against us. I think that makes it easier for others.
‘If we want to win the title, we have to try to play well against United, and United have a strong team but we are strong enough to do this.
‘I think United will win their next game but it is going to be more difficult for us, against Sunderland away and then, within 48 hours, against Liverpool.
‘I’m not happy with this situation, because two days’ rest, when we are already playing every three days, is not correct. I don’t know why this is. Well, I do — it’s for television.
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‘Maybe if we had scored, the game would have been different, but we do need to look at moving the ball a bit quicker.’
West Bromwich manager Roy Hodgson insisted the title race is now wide open.
‘You could almost walk into any pub in the land and ask who’s going to win it, because I’m not sure anyone has got the answer,’ he said.
‘I think it will be tough between City and United right through to the end. In some ways the riches are on the blue side of Manchester, but to some extent the quality and talent are on the red side.
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‘City could virtually put out two Premier League sides. Look at today. You think you are coping with Aguero and Nasri, and on come Dzeko and Johnson.
‘United have had injury problems but the important thing is United beat Fulham 5-0 away in the week and have put five past an in-form Wigan today. They are flying.
‘It will be a fantastic duel and we have to see if Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal can make their voices heard, too.’