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City's title hopes fade in Southampton

Manchester City’s defence of their title appeared to end on a dismal February afternoon on the south coast. A series of calamitous defensive errors resulted in a 3-1 defeat to Southampton and City manager Roberto Mancini had to concede that the title chase was pretty much beyond them.

"We just didn't play," Mancini said after the game. "We played maybe with two players. When it is 11 against two, it is difficult to win. We conceded two goals that were incredible for a top team like us."

He was making reference to a basic mistake by goalkeeper Joe Hart to gift Southampton their first goal, and an inexplicable own goal by Gareth Barry to put Southampton 3-1 up in the second half.

Hart’s form is a source of concern for the manager. At the end of a week in which the goalkeeper had been outstanding for England against Brazil, he was again culpable in a City shirt. Mancini didn’t hold back with the criticism, suggesting that the goalkeeper and his team-mates were complacent after winning the title last season.

"It's not strange because he did two or three mistakes this year and this is not good for us," Mancini said. "Joe is a good keeper but a goalkeeper can't do a mistake like this. Probably we think because we won last year we are top players, but to stay at the top you need to work like we did last year."

Mancini also blamed the club for failing to strengthen the team. He put City’s chances of overhauling Manchester United at no higher than ten percent. "We have 12 games, we need to respect our team and ourselves and see what we can do." It is looking increasingly unlikely that Mancini will be charge at the Etihad for the start of next season.

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