Mancini refusing to give up on the title: 'Never say never in football' says City boss
Published 19:08 08/04/12 By MirrorFootball
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini refused to concede his side's title bid had been sunk by this afternoon's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal, insisting you can "never say never" in football.
However, the Italian did admit that it would be "very difficult" for City to overhaul city rivals Manchester United, who now boast an eight-point lead heading into the final six games of the season after beating QPR 2-0 earlier today.
Speaking after his side went down to a late Mikel Arteta strike at the Emirates, Mancini said when asked if the title was race over: "No, it's not mathematically (over), but it's clear now that it's very difficult. We have a game in three days and we will try to win. Never say never in football.
He added on Sky Sports 1: "In life until it's over you should do your best. In the end if we don't win it's probably because they (United) did better than us.
"It's clearly difficult (to lift the players) but we play in three days and this is good. We are a professional team, with professional players. It's important we start to win and finish the championship well."
A miserably day for City was made complete by Mario Balotelli's late red card.
The Italian was deservedly sent off in the final minute after referee Martin Atkinson and assistant Peter Kirkup somehow failed to spot his first-half knee-high tackle on Alex Song, and he could now face a lengthy ban.
Mancini said of that first-half challenge: "From the bench I didn't see the first tackle but it was a bad tackle."
When asked if the authorities should take a look retrospectively, he said: "I hope (so)," and admitted the striker deserved a lengthy ban.
Mancini added of his controversial countryman: "I defend him always because Mario is a good guy, but if he doesn't change in the future he can lose all his talent.
"If he doesn't understand this, after two years I can't do anything. I hope for him that he can improve, that he can understand that he can't continue like this, for his future, for his talent. I'm very sorry for him for this."
Arsenal had the better of the chances and hit the woodwork three times before Arteta's 87th-minute winner.
The victory lifted Arsene Wenger's men up to third spot in the table, two points ahead of Spurs and five clear of Chelsea and Newcastle in fifth and sixth.
The Spaniard said: "I think we were the better team over the whole game, we had the most chances. We scored at the end and for us it's a massive game.
"It was so important, Chelsea won yesterday, Newcastle have been very consistent in the last few games, Tottenham are still in there and it's going to be a big fight from here to the end of the season, but we knew that today was one of the more difficult games for us.
"There was a lot to play for (for both teams). For them it was massive, because now it will be really tough for them to catch Man U and for us if we lost today we would have two teams two points behind us with six games to go. We are so happy."