Roberto Mancini
Roberto Mancini

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says he is afraid Manchester United is the more determined of the two sides, ahead of the two teams' derby encounter on Monday, at the Etihad stadium.

The two Manchester clubs are fighting for the Premier League title and are separated by only three points. Should City win, they will go top of the table, thanks to better goal difference and with only three games remaining in the season, could well have all but won the title.

"For the last 20 years Manchester United have been winning constantly. Even when they are coming from behind in the table, they know deep inside they can come back. They have this internal force born from all the success they have had," the Sun quoted Mancini as saying.

"Playing often against United has helped our progress and allowed us to learn. We've moved closer to them but they are still better than us. They have more experience and that team spirit that we are in the process of building here," he added.

Several people wrote off City's chances after the 0-1 defeat against Arsenal. However, after United's surprising 0-1 defeat to Wigan and chaotic 4-4 draw against Everton, City took the opportunity to record emphatic wins against West Brom, Norwich and Wolves to bounce back into contention.

However, Mancini claims United are still the favourites.

"We didn't watch United's match with Everton because we were preparing for our match with Wolves. I hadn't asked to be kept informed on what the score was, so I didn't see Steven Pienaar's goal that made it 4-4 live. In any case, that goal doesn't change anything," he said, according to a Sky Sports report.

"We are always behind United and we are obliged to win on Monday, as United still have a big advantage and an easier run-in. They will play Swansea and Sunderland - who no longer have anything to lose or to gain - and we are facing Newcastle, who are doing very well, and QPR, who are playing for survival. The match against United could end up not deciding anything," he added.

Mancini also said his side would be back stronger than ever next year, regardless of the result of this year's competition.

"We can be proud of the work we've done. It's not 10 years City have been fighting for the title, just two. In 2010, we finished fifth and, the following season, we finished third with the same number of points as Chelsea in second. This year we are second and still on course for the title with three games left. We are progressing," he added, according to the Sun.