Roberto Mancini has played down Manchester City's chances of winning the Premier League title this season, claiming it will be a three-horse race between Chelsea, manchester United and Arsenal.
The Italian has enjoyed an impressive start to life at Eastlands, winning his first four games in charge, most recently against Blackburn on Monday.
That 4-1 triumph took City into the top four, which was the target handed to former boss Mark Hughes at the start of the season by owner Sheikh Mansour and has now been passed to Mancini.
With City only seven points behind leaders Chelsea and only six adrift of local rivals Manchester United, with a game in hand, there has even been optimistic talk among the Blues faithful about a serious tilt for top spot and their first championship since 1968.
But Mancini does not expect the gap to narrow completely and believes his run of three league titles on the trot, all with Inter Milan, is destined to come to an end.
"To my mind there are three teams who can win the league; Chelsea, United and Arsenal,'' he said. "Football can be strange and things can change in a couple of months.
"There are other teams who are only just behind so nothing is totally impossible but for me, it is between those three.''
The City boss appears to have back-tracked after insisting last month that his team could challenge, following his side's 3-0 victory over Wolves.
"Can we win the league? All is realistic," he said after the victory. "We have another 18 games to go so all is possible because we have a good team. If we stay concentrated always it is possible with the players we have.