Roberto Mancini has risked the ire of Sir Alex Ferguson by suggesting Manchester United's 15-point lead at the top of the table is mostly down to good fortune.
"Until now, United have been really lucky with everything. They have won a lot of games in the last minutes, including against us. They probably deserved to lose that game but won in the last second. I don't think this is a correct gap at the moment," Mancini said, ahead of his team's game against Chelsea.
The gap to the leaders was 12 points before kick-off for the weekend games but has now been extended, following United's comfortable 2-0 win over QPR, at Loftus Road. The win also increases pressure on Mancini, who was recently caught in a war of words with a reporter.
Mancini's comments are unlikely to have any impact on the title race; the Old Trafford club will be aware they surrendered an eight-point lead last season and allowed their arch-rivals to sneak past on goal difference on the final day of the season. Ferguson will be keen to keep his players focused on the prize and will probably use Mancini's comments to motivate them.
Meanwhile, speculation continues to mount over Mancini's future at the Etihad. Although the ex-Inter boss remains defiant about his position at the club, an Express report has linked the champions with a move for Malaga manager, Manuel Pellegrini. Mancini, for his part, remains confident of defending City's first league title in 44 years.
"Clearly it will not be easy, but if we win the last 12 games, it could happen. I was once 14 points above Roma [as Inter Milan manager] and we only won the championship in the last minutes," he said.
Ferguson Hails United's Performance
Meanwhile, Ferguson has praised his players after the win over the Rangers. He said he was particularly pleased with the level of concentration and determination they showed.
"I decided to play all my experienced players: Ferdinand, Vidic, Carrick, Giggs, van Persie, Evra. We needed plenty of experience because it's not an easy place to come to. It was a scrappy game for a lot of the time, the pitch was lively and it's a tight ground. It was an ideal situation for a shock but fortunately we didn't get that. I thought we played much better in the second half, when we created some good chances. One goal is never enough but Ryan's goal with 10 minutes to go killed the game," he said.