Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong feels that Manchester City have to start playing well if they are to retain the Premier League title this season.

Nigel de Jong
Nigel de Jong

Despite winning the Community Shield after beating Chelsea 3-2, the English champions have not been able to play freely this season. They began the season with a narrow 3-2 win against the newly promoted Southampton before registering a 2-2 draw against Liverpool. City would have certainly lost against the Reds had it not been for a silly mistake by defender Martin Skrtel.

"I don't know what it is. It is a bad habit. We picked that up from the last game of the season against QPR and have continued that in these first two games of the new season," ESPN quoted de Jong as saying.

"We have to improve and show that we are up for the test wherever we go, away or at home. It is not going to be an easy season. Wherever you go everyone wants to beat the champions. We have to stand tall with each other and improve,'' he added.

However, the 27-year-old Dutchman says that he is glad to see Argentinean striker Carlos Tevez, who is thinking of extending his stay at the Etihad, playing well following his return from a long controversial absence last season.

"He is on fire at the moment and a Tevez on fire is good for any team wherever he is. I am just glad he is still part of this City team and if he continues like this he will score a lot of goals this season," he added.

Mancini Satisfied With City's Performance at Anfield

Meanwhile, City boss Roberto Mancini, despite being disappointed for dropping two points against Liverpool, says that he was satisfied with his team's overall effort at Anfield.

City boss Roberto Maicini
City boss Roberto Maicini

"I said before the game that this game would be very difficult, but we gave a very good performance," Mancini told City's official web site.

However, Mancini feels that the Citizens need to strengthen their defences especially during set piece situations.

"We started well and had four or five chances to score but after we conceded the first goal, something changed. We lost two goals from free-kicks, so I think we need to improve. The wall should stop that [second] goal - they slept," he added.

City's next Premier League fixture is against Queen Park Rangers on 1 September.