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English Premiership

Mancini confident of clinching title

WOLVERHAMPTON, December 29- New Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insisted his team could yet emerge as English Premier League title contenders after a 3-0 win away to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Carlos Tevez scored twice and Javier Garrido struck a brilliant, if controversial, free-kick as City won Monday’s match here at Molineux in style to move to within 10 points of current leaders Chelsea.

Victory also preserved their perfect record under former Inter Milan boss Mancini after the Italian began his City career by overseeing Saturday’s 2-0 home win against Stoke.

Mancini was brought in after City’s big-spending billionaire Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour risked alienating the club’s fans by sacking previous manager Mark Hughes, even though the side have lost just twice in the league so far this season – a statistic no other English top-flight team can match.

Their new manager appeared to have set his sights on getting into the top four this season and making sure Champions League football came to Eastlands next term, when the club might then challenge for the English title.

Bur after this result Mancini, who has yet to see City concede a goal on his watch, said all things were possible although he stressed talk of a title tilt was still some way off.

"Now is not the time to look at our league position," Mancini told reporters. "We will just play one game at a time and then we will look at the table in two months.

"Can we win the league? All is realistic. We have another 18 games to go, so all is possible because we have a good team."

Wales striker Craig Bellamy, close to compatriot and former national team boss Hughes, was at the heart of much of City’s best work against Wolves and Mancini was delighted by his display.

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"Craig Bellamy is a strong character, a good player. It would be better if he stayed with us," Mancini said.

"I have had difficult players but I have played for 20 years and I know very well about good players so there are no problems."

And Bellamy insisted he was still committed to sticking with City.

"For me, obviously I have great affection for Mark Hughes but that’s the nature of the business," Bellamy said. "You have to carry on if you want to be part of Man City. The players we’ve got, big things are going to happen here and I want to be part of it if I can."

The defeat was Wolves’s second in 72 hours, following a 2-0 loss away to Liverpool, and left manager Mick McCarthy’s side just two points above the relegation zone.

While Argentina striker Tevez’s 33rd and 86th minute goals owed nothing to the officials, it was a different story with Spanish midfielder Garrido’s 69th minute free-kick, awarded after Bellamy appeared to be in an offside position moments earlier.

"I’m not going to comment on it," said McCarthy of Garrido’s goal. "It might cost me a few quid if I do.

"But in terms of our performance, I thought the final scoreline was very harsh. I thought we played well.

"I know that sounds ridiculous when you’ve lost 3-0 but we played as well with the ball as we have done for a long time.

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"If you had said after the Birmingham game a month ago that we would have the points we have got now (19), then we would all be happy.

"We weren’t really expected to get points from sides in the top six and we have to pick up points against the teams we are expected to pick up points from," McCarthy added.

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