Roberto Mancini admitted that Sergio Aguero’s last minute goal against Villarreal may well have kept the Blues in the Uefa Champions League hunt.
Faced with the likelihood of having to win in Villarreal, Napoli and at home to Bayern Munich in order to reach the knockout stages, the Argentine international at least gave City some breathing space in the race for the top two.
“It would have been very difficult (to qualify) without that goal,” conceded the manager. “But I thought we deserved to win and had many chances before that one.
Now the Napoli game could be crucial for us in deciding the standings in the group
Mancini’s Premier League leaders never reached the dizzy heights of which they are capable in the 2-1 win and the manager confessed it was hard work juggling both the Champions League and the domestic competition.
“It is not so hard for those clubs who do it every year but this is our first season and that is the hardest one of all,” he said. “We need to keep improving and learning.
We don’t have the experience of other clubs but we will battle as hard as we can in all competitions
Next up for City is a trip to Old Trafford and Mancini doesn’t believe the Villarreal contest will have any bearing on it.
“It will be a different game, a different test,” he declared. “The good thing is that we will go there with three wins in succession and in a confident frame of mind.”
Included in the squad for the short trip will be Adam Johnson who was substituted before half-time against the Spanish side. The manager explained why.
“It was not because Adam was playing badly but it was a tactical change,” he stressed.
“Villarreal were counter-attacking four or five times down the middle and I wanted to get someone else in there. They had too much space.
“Also I wanted to get Yaya Toure further up the pitch closer to Edin Dzeko. Sometimes managers will make these changes and it is hard for the player who comes off.
“No one likes being taken off before half-time but Adam understands. I spoke to him after the game. He is fine.”
Mancini will be hoping the same can be said of Nigel de Jong after he left the pitch early with a knock on his hip. The Dutchman said he was confident of being ready for the trip to face United.