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Mancini: Players will take responsibility

Roberto Mancini believes his Manchester City players accepted they deserved the blame for the 3-1 defeat to Southampton that effectively ended their title hopes and is not worried his outspoken outburst has damaged his relationship with them.

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The City manager admitted he was angry after the loss at St Mary's and said he was most frustrated by the lack of fight his players showed. But Mancini is confident they have understood the message from their manager.

He said: "I think that the players know they didn't do their job at Southampton and sometimes it is important they take the responsibility. Sometimes that is better.

"I was disappointed with them because they played a bad game. I don't think a team like us can play a game like this. We can lose when the team we play performs better than us. But not like this because a team like us should be trying to score, score, score. We did very, very badly.

"It is impossible to play all of the games better than your opponent. Sometimes it is important to fight because we can win 1-0 - not because we played better."

Mancini said chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak was upset with the defeat but shrugged off speculation about his job by insisting City's owners are pleased with his record at the Etihad Stadium.

He added: "I speak with Khaldoon every week. He is like me. When we lose he has my mentality, he is upset and disappointed but this is normal and it's correct in football if you have blood inside you.

"After you lose you can't be happy for 24 hours. After that you need to think about the future. We have a good relationship. At this moment they aren't happy because when you lose you can't be happy but I think they are happy with our job over the three years."

Costel Pantilimon is set to replace Joe Hart in goal against Leeds on Sunday but Mancini said that is because the Romanian always plays FA Cup games, rather than because of the England international's error for Southampton's second goal.

He explained: "I will play Costel like always in the FA Cup. Costel is a good keeper, he deserves to play, he always does in the FA Cup and he did well against Stoke."

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