ROBERTO Mancini believes there is life in the Premier League title race if his Manchester City strikers can fire as they did in yesterday’s FA Cup cruise over Leeds.
City rarely had to leave second gear to beat their lacklustre Championship opponents 4-0, with Sergio Aguero’s double complemented by goals from Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez.
A walk in the park against a Leeds side who were out of their depth was just the tonic City needed after their Southampton horror show last week.
A 3-1 defeat left them 12 points behind Manchester United in their bid to retain their title and many consider it to be a foregone conclusion that the trophy will be back a Old Trafford come May.
But after watching Aguero score twice to take his tally of goals in a stop-start season to 13, the Italian predicted twists and turns if his men can start scoring on a regular basis again.
He said: “I hope Sergio will be like this from now until the end, because if Sergio is like this, and our strikers continue to score a lot of goals from now until the end, I think the championship is not finished.
“This is possible but I think it should be confident, always.
If we are 12 points behind – we lost seven points in three games. This can happen for every team. We play a lot of games.
“I think in this moment they deserve to be there because they played better than us. They scored more goals than us.’’ Part of City’s problem this season has been a glut of injuries with various players, Aguero included, picking up niggles here and there. Gareth Barry was absent yesterday with an ankle problem and captain Vincent Kompany has a knee injury.
“For this we are unlucky this year. Gareth was nothing.
I think he will be ready. We hope we can recover Vinny for the next game. Javi we will see tomorrow or Tuesday. I don’t think that is a big problem, Mancini said.
With Arsenal and Liverpool among the big names to have exited this season’s FA Cup before the quarter-finals that City are now in, the chances of regaining the trophy they won in 2011 are improving by the round.
Mancini is aware of its importance and played down teams playing supposed weaker line-ups in it.
“I think the FA Cup is difficult.
Every team plays like the Champions League final. For this reason the FA Cup is an important trophy in England, because you should play 100 per cent if you want to win,’’ he said.
Having failed to claim a league point since their fourth-round win over Tottenham three weeks ago, this was another dismal day out for Leeds who find themselves the subject of a second confusing takeover bid of the season.
Manager Neil Warnock is coming under increasing pressure from the fans to quit having failed to mastermind a promotion challenge, and cries of “Warnock – time to go” were the printable catcalls aimed at him from the away end.
His contract is up at the end of the season and he has told owners GFH Capital he will not be staying on next season, while he yesterday claimed he would leave earlier if he was asked.
“I don’t deserve that (abuse) after the year I have had, but I am unlucky to have been at three clubs with three takeovers,’’he said, referencing previous spells with Crystal Palace and QPR.
“I understand their feelings and the noise they make shows what sort of club it is.
If we go up, the owners know I won’t be here and the further away we get (from promotion) the club will be looking to see what they’re going to do and, if I can, I will help them.”