Roberto Mancini believes it will be "easy" for Manchester City to make up the nine-point gap to Manchester United at the top of the table after boldly declaring that his team have been the best side in the Premier League over the last two seasons.
City were eight points behind United with six games remaining last season but became champions for the first time in 44 years on goal difference. Now they have 13 games to overcome a marginally bigger deficit, giving Mancini confidence that his side can overhaul their neighbours again.
But the Italian will be cheering on City's local rivals when they face Real Madrid in the Champions League because he thinks a long run in Europe will make it harder for them in the domestic competitions.
Mancini said: "They have nine points more than us because they did better than us. But in three months, everything can change like last year. If we can recover eight points in six games, I think to recover nine points in 13 games will be easy.
"If Manchester United draw or [suffer a] defeat, the title race is reopened. It is clear we need to do better than in the last two games. It is normal when you play in the Champions League against Real Madrid, you can lose your strength in this game. We support Manchester United to go through in the Champions League."
While Mancini accepts United deserve to top the table now, he is adamant his side have been superior over the past couple of campaigns. He explained: "I don't think in these two years there is a team that has played better than us. Manchester United are a strong team and Chelsea are a strong team but I think in the last two years Manchester City are the team that played better in the Premier League."