Roberto Mancini is wary of Manchester City making another slow start in the Premier League as they prepare to kick-off their campaign against newly promoted Swansea.
Mancini complained last week that his squad was not yet complete just days out from the start of the season as City continue their pursuit of Arsenal star Samir Nasri. The Italian followed this rant by suggesting the unfinished squad could get out of the blocks in shaky fashion, as they did last campaign, making their dream of a Premier League title that much more difficult to attain.
"I think the first 10 games are very difficult - the squad is not 100% ready," Mancini told the Guardian. "It needs four or five games to find good form for the players. If we complete our squad, we can fight for the title this year. But that is a problem at the moment.
"When you start the season and you play against a team that comes from the Championship, it is really difficult. Last year, with all the teams that came from the Championship, it was very hard to play against them in the first 10 games and it will be the same this year. But this is why the Premier League is difficult. Every game is hard."
"I have watched many of their games. Swansea play good football. They don't play long ball and they have good players. The manager [Brendan Rodgers] is good - last year, he played really good football and got promoted."
The club has strengthened its playing stocks over the summer by signing the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy, but Mancini says the delays in signing Nasri and sorting out the future of Carlos Tevez could prevent City improving on last season's third-placed finish and becoming genuine title contenders.
"It is not important whether you are the richest club or not," said Mancini."The market is difficult. I understand that. But when you have your targets, it is important to go very hard. It was important to have these players for pre-season because it is there that you prepare for the season. At the moment, we don't have these players. I asked and I hope we can have them this week.
"But last year it was the same. In the first three games, we lost against Sunderland and drew at Tottenham. That is why it is important to have the players before."