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Football | Barclays Premier League

Mancini ready to concede title to United



Roberto Mancini says Manchester City are continuing to make progress under his leadership even though he is ready to concede the Premier League title race this weekend.

City will start Sunday's home game with Chelsea 15 points behind Manchester United if Alex Ferguson's leaders win at bottom club Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

Should that happen, and City fail to defeat Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium, then Mancini says the title race will be over, with 11 games remaining after the weekend.

Yet whatever the outcome, the Italian says City are making progress and he will only quit if he can no longer move them forward.

"If I didn't win for two or three years I would say to the club 'I don't want to stay' because after two or three years of not winning, I would leave," said Mancini.

"I couldn't continue to stay here. But I think that what we did in the last two years is important for the club.

"Nine months ago we won the Premier League. Six months ago we won the Community Shield.

"Now we have another two chances. Maybe the Premier League will be difficult, but we have the FA Cup.

"Hopefully, if we can take second place, that would not be a bad season, like United last year.

"I don't think I can stay here 10 years, it's impossible for me.

"But I think that in four or five years, to try to win the Premier League and Champions League, I think this is possible."

City captain Vincent Kompany could miss a fifth successive game with a calf injury while midfielder Gareth Barry is a doubt with an ankle problem sustained during last week's FA Cup win over Leeds while keeper Joe Hart is set to return.

Like Mancini, Rafael Benitez, the interim Chelsea manager, is also convinced his side has progressed in recent months and believes they are capable of overhauling City and claiming second place behind United.

An unconvincing draw with Sparta Prague this week was hardly a ringing endorsement of Benitez's claims although it did ensure Chelsea progressed into the last 16 of the Europa League, ensuring that, along with the FA Cup, the Blues remain in contention for two trophies as well as Champions League qualification.

"What I can see now is a team at Chelsea FC who have confidence," said Benitez.

"We are confident we can beat City if we do things the right way. We are creating chances in every game. If we do, we'll be closer.

"But the race for the top four will go until the end of the season. Our last game is against Everton – we'll win and lose games, but it will be very close right to the end. It will be very close."

The problem against Sparta was that too many chances were squandered particularly by Fernando Torres who is expected to make way for the returning Demba Ba.

Chelsea's goal threat will also be enhanced by the return of Frank Lampard, rested in midweek, with the midfielder targeting his 200th goal for the club.

A bigger question mark rests over the inclusion of John Terry, the club captain who played 90 minutes against Sparta but could return to the bench with Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz in contention for a place in central defence.

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