Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says that he felt his side deserved a draw at Old Trafford on Saturday, but conceded that Wayne Rooney’s match-winner was ‘fantastic’.
When Mancini was asked if Rooney’s goal had been pure genius, he replied: “Yes. Only a fantastic goal can decide this game. A fair result was a draw. We played very well and I’m proud of my players. I thought we could win this game. After 1-1 I thought we had a chance to win. But it was a fantastic goal that Rooney scored and it changed this game.”
Mancini then all but admitted that the title race was over for his side. “Yes, it is very difficult, but I think we should continue, like today, when we lost a game that we don’t deserve to lose, I think we can win a game that we don’t deserve to win.”
The Italian also expects Mario Balotelli to return to action in time for the FA Cup fourth round replay against Notts County next Sunday. The controversial striker has spent time in America for treatment on a long-standing knee problem.
The 20-year-old is now close to full fitness, and Mancini expects Balotelli to be involved in City’s next home game. “Mario Balotelli can go on the bench for the next home game against Notts County, ” he said.
Before facing County, City must travel to Greece for Europa League fixture against Aris on Tuesday.
Mancini admitted that he was unsure as to wether midfielder Nigel de Jong would be availible for the game. “I need to speak with the physio,” he said.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart has assured Blues fans that City will quickly bounce back from Saturday’s derby defeat at Old Trafford.
Mancini’s men have little time to dwell on how they ended up without a point, with Tuesday’s game fast approaching.
England keeper Hart admitted: “It’s deflated us a bit, but you’ve got to pick yourselves up and move on. You can’t give up. If you’re going to do that then there’s no point in turning up every week. We are here to win games, do well for Manchester City and push the club on. That’s not changed. It’s unfortunate that we lost, but we have to brush ourselves down and carry on. We’ve got the Europa League and the FA Cup as well as the Premier League to focus on. We know what we are about. People have been talking about Manchester United all season, but we came here and played well. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t produce that bit of magic …”
Hart had no chance with Rooney’s overhead kick, adding: “I think you’ve got to admire skill like that, it’s just a shame that it was against us! It’s what he’s capable of, and it’s probably been bottled up for the whole season. He’s summed himself up as a player and also shut a few critics up with that strike.”