Roberto Mancini is adamant Manchester United will slip up in February as they try to balance their Premier League title charge with Champions League aspirations.
United currently lead rivals City by seven points as they gear up for a month which sees them take on Real Madrid away, as well as throwing up domestic clashes with Fulham, Everton, Reading and QPR.
Yet although Sir Alex Ferguson’s men enjoy a commanding lead at the top of the table, Mancini is in no mood to give up hope just yet, having seen his team dramatically claw back an eight-point deficit in the final six games of last season.
“When we arrive at the end of February, the gap will be very, very small,” he told reporters.
“In every championship, never has one team won a title in January. We should fight until April. If they have seven, eight, nine points in April it could be difficult. But in this moment we have a big chance.
“Every team during the season has two or three weeks when they don’t play well, when their performances go down and they don’t score.
“Even if you have fantastic strikers, like the situation we had last year, there were some moments when we scored three or four goals a game but then didn’t score for three or four games and we didn’t know why.
“It could be the same for them now.”
On Sunday City face a challenge of their own as they take on Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, and Mancini took the opportunity to praise his opposite number, Brendan Rodgers, who almost became his assistant three years ago.
“I talked with him but for me it was easier to take David [Platt] because I played with him, I knew him very well and David spoke Italian,” he added.
“I was impressed with Brendan. I met him in Milan. I spoke about him with our chief scout [the former technical director Mike Rigg] and also with Garry Cook [the former chief executive].
“He impressed me because he knows his football very well, he showed he is a good manager in the last two years. I’m not surprised he went to Liverpool because he’s a good manager.”