Football: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini warned arch-rivals Manchester United today that the Premier League title race is far from over.
The Red Devils have opened up a seven-point lead over second-placed City at the division’s summit, after the Eastlands outfit lost 1-0 at Sunderland on Boxing Day.
Yet despite the setback, which was compounded by United’s last-gasp 4-3 win against Newcastle, the Italian was quick to point out that the season was only at the halfway stage.
He said: “We have had leads, United have had the lead — it’s to-ing and fro-ing at the moment. We are a team of winners. It’s hard and it hurts, but we have got to move on. It is hard to lead and it is hard to chase too.
“We have clawed points back before, we proved it at the end of last year. We have just got to believe.”
His sentiment was echoed by City goalkeeper Joe Hart, who was surprised by former team-mate Adam Johnson when the winger fired a long-range effort past him for the Black Cats’ winner.
The goal condemned City to their third-straight defeat on Wearside — but Hart insisted that the team were now focused on Saturday's trip to Norwich, where they won 6-1 in April.
The 25-year-old said: “The only way we can change it is by winning here next year — but for now, we only have Norwich on our minds.
“I was in my position for the shot, and that’s where you will see me again on Saturday. But he (Johnson) struck it well with just enough wobble to beat me.”
Meanwhile United stopper Rio Ferdinand has called on his teammates to sort their defensive problems out before they start to eat away at their season.
Despite racing away at the top of the table, the Red Devils have now conceded 28 goals this season, only five fewer than QPR who are presently languishing at the foot of the table.
And Ferdinand believes it is high time for the side to firm up their soft centre.
“We are concerned,” he said.
“This season we have let in far too many goals and we need to change that. We are in a good position but if we are to maintain where we are, we need to sort ourselves out.”
Finally, the Football Association confirmed yesterday that United boss Alex Ferguson will not face punishment for confronting referee Mike Dean at Old Trafford during the 4-3 win over Newcastle.
The Scot was furious after Dean overruled assistant Jake Collin and awarded Newcastle’s second goal.
But the FA revealed that no action would be taken against Ferguson as Dean made no reference to the manager confronting him in his report.
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