Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez thanked manager Roberto Mancini for keeping faith with him and warned Manchester United the title race is far from over after he hit a hat-trick in Saturday's 6-1 annihilation of Norwich.
Tevez went AWOL for three months after a spat with Mancini but the pair have now made up and Tevez is back in the fold for the Lancashire club as they seek to overhaul their bitter local rivals and clinch their first title since 1968.
Tevez started his second straight Premier League game for the first time in 11 months and he rewarded his manager with a fine display of deadly finishing.
Mancini, perhaps taking a leaf out of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's textbook on mind games, claimed again yesterday that the title race is ''finished'', but Tevez thinks otherwise.
''Of course we can still win the title,'' Tevez told City TV. ''Obviously we have to put pressure on United. We just need to continue to play the way we are and we will arrive and the top. Mathematically it's not impossible.''
Tevez's dispute with Mancini stretches back to September when the Italian claimed his former captain refused to come off the bench in the club's Champions League game at Bayern Munich. After five months of disciplinary hearings, public verbal sparring with Mancini and huge fines, Tevez returned in February after issuing an apology.
The 28-year-old made four substitute appearances and has looked very sharp since being restored to the starting XI on Wednesday, when he helped the Blues to a 4-0 win over West Brom.
''I am very happy that I played very well today but the most important thing is that I want to say thank you to my colleagues for all the support they have given me since I arrived,'' he said.
''It wasn't easy coming back to training and to play but they have given me a lot of support and the technical staff have been very good to me too. I really appreciate everyone's help.''
Tevez followed his third strike by mimicking a golf-swing in front of the raucous City following, who seem to have forgiven him for his misdemeanours. Some saw that as a dig at Mancini after the Italian's comments about Tevez being busy playing golf in Argentina during his battle with the club, but the striker says that was not the case.
''It was an important goal, not just for me but it was important for the people, for the club and for the fans, for my colleagues, for Roberto,'' he added. ''We all went through some difficult times. That's why I celebrated the way I did because I have my feet on the floor and I am happy for everyone.''