NO DIFFERENCE: City boss says team have been winning without the Argentine striker
MANCHESTER City manager Roberto Mancini shrugged off suggestions that had Carlos Tevez been available all season they would have won the Premier League already.
City moved within two points of leaders Manchester United with an emphatic 6-1 win over Norwich City at Carrow Road with Tevez hitting a hat-trick.
It was the Argentine striker's fourth goal in two games and many fans feel that had Tevez not gone on a self-imposed exile, Manchester City would now be champions.
"Tevez was out for six months and it is only in the last month that we have come off the top," said Mancini.
"Tevez is not the only player who has been out. We have also been without (Sergio) Aguero for two games (draws with Stoke and Sunderland), Vincent Kompany was out for a month with injury and (Joleon) Lescott too for four weeks.
"The team did well without Carlos for six months."
Aguero grabbed two goals and Adam Johnson made it six to keep the title race alive although Mancini insists United will not be caught.
"Maybe it is only two points now but United still have to play. It is too late for us," said the Italian.
"It is a pity because we are playing really well, how we played in the first 28 games, but we have had some problems with key players being out injured."
But while Mancini appears to have given up hope, his players clearly have not and midfielder Nigel De Jong insisted they will not give up the chase.
"Everyone knows that it will be hard, you have to be a realist as well," said De Jong.
"On the other hand nothing is impossible but whatever he said the players and the staff will keep fighting until the end, until the last game of the season and then you will see where we stand, with the title or not.
The Dutch international believes a recent slump in form has proved costly but can be rectified. "We had a blip in the last month. That is the only reason. We have the players in the squad to be title contenders and we still are so we just have to keep fighting and see where we end the season."
De Jong admitted it is was a pleasure to see the Argentine duo in action.
Norwich manager Paul Lambert refused to be too hard on his side, whose only reply came from substitute Andrew Surman, six minutes after half-time.
"I'm not sure we deserved to lose 6-1," said Lambert. "For 70-odd minutes we were right in it and at 2-1 we were on the ascendancy.
"But three goals in seven minutes is poor from our point of view but when you are playing against players of their calibre it can happen." AFP