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Van Persie making difference in title race, admits Mancini

January 01, 2013

A meticulous forward planner, Roberto Mancini is already looking ahead to the summer. 

Once this season is over, therefore, we can expect some serious interest from Manchester City in centre forwards Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani. 

On Monday morning at City's windswept training ground, however, Mancini was looking backwards, as well as forwards. 

As he anticipated another close encounter with neighbours Manchester United over the remaining 19 games of the Barclays Premier League season, the City manager returned to the subject of his club's failed attempt to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal last summer. 

As news of their manager's words filtered across to the executive offices at the Etihad Stadium, eyebrows will have been raised. 

There is a desire at boardroom level at City for Mancini to stop discussing the what-ifs of last summer's rather disappointing efforts in the transfer market. 

Nevertheless, it is also hard to disagree with Mancini's assertion that Van Persie has so far been a significant difference between the clubs as United have opened up a sevenpoint gap over the reigning champions. 

City, it must be said, are short of goals. Van Persie has scored 14 times in the league so far this season while the champions' quartet of strikers have managed only 23 between them. 

'Robin van Persie is an important player for them,' said Mancini. 'It's clear that the difference is this. He has changed the situation. 

'We wanted him in the summer because we knew he would be an important player. He is totally different from our other strikers.' 

The Van Persie subject came up again after Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport ran an interview with Mancini in which he expressed his regret at not clinching the signing of the Holland forward. 

At the heart of the City manager's frustration is that he feels he had a head start on United when he first made contact with the player back in March. 

Van Persie has gone on record as saying that he only ever wanted to move to Old Trafford. Mancini's memory of events has always been very different. 

He refused to elaborate on what he felt went wrong, showing some diplomacy in saying: 'I know, but I won't say'. 

What is known, though, is that City and Van Persie were in constant contact throughout the European Championship and indeed right up until they made him an improved financial offer in the days before he finally plumped for United in August. 

'Three or four months earlier, we were there,' said Mancini. 'But there is nothing we can do now.' 

In his interview that appeared in his home country yesterday, Mancini suggested that United deserved their current lead in the table. 

'Maybe it should be two points instead of seven, though,' he added. 

Certainly the gap between the two clubs could well narrow over the coming weeks and neither are expected to figure prominently in the transfer window. 

Mancini is an admirer of Demba Ba but would need somebody to make an offer for Mario Balotelli in order to interfere with Chelsea's interest in the Newcastle striker. 

As stated, meanwhile, he will only harden his efforts to prise either Falcao from Atletico Madrid or Cavani from Napoli once he knows what is happening with Balotelli and Edin Dzeko in the summer. 

For now, Mancini must hope his current squad manages to find a little extra as they look to rein in Sir Alex Ferguson's team. 

One of the reasons City's failure to sign Van Persie remains such a disappointment is that the majority of the players they did buy in the summer have made such modest contributions. 

Now, with their midfield colossus Yaya Toure about to disappear to the Africa Cup of Nations for a month or so, City need improved performances from the likes of Javi Garcia, James Milner and Sergio Aguero - among others - if they are to produce what they need.

Mancini's mood has calmed a little since a home defeat by United - Van Persie scoring the winner - and a loss at Sunderland. 

On Monday he joked about the fact the FA wish to talk to him about comments he made about the referee at Sunderland and even poked gentle fun at his rival from Old Trafford. 

'I haven't had the letter from the FA yet,' he said. 'The post in this country is terrible. 

'Maybe next time I should run on the pitch at half-time with my hands in the air and shout at the referee. 

'This is a joke. This has been a fantastic year for us. I hope that this coming year will be the same.'


Source: DailyMail


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