Roberto Mancini believes it will be harder for the Blues to defend their Premier League title than it was winning it for the first time in 44 years.
Speaking for the first time since he signed a new five-year contract the City chief outlined what he expects to achieve between now and 2017.
Mancini was in relaxed mood at the club’s pre-season training camp in the beautiful Austrian skiing resort of Seefeld.
Ahead of a light-hearted question and answer session with fans via Twitter, the manager also spoke freely about which clubs he felt would be the main title contenders this time around and his relationship with striker Carlos Tevez.
After joking that a five-year deal was ‘too long’ Mancini went on to display that his desire for winning has not been diminished one jot by adding the English title to those he won in Italy.
“We did a good job for the last two years and I hope we can do a better one in the next five,” he declared in an interview conducted in the former monastery that is serving as City’s base for two weeks.
“But we cannot rest or start thinking that because we won the title that we are the best.
“It is more difficult to win the title when you are defending champions. We start again as if from nothing; we must forget that we won the title. Every team will want to beat us and we must work harder than ever.
“I think there are four or five teams that can challenge but now, before the transfer window is closed, I think United and Chelsea will challenge us for the title.”
Mancini said he felt it necessary that the Blues squad be strengthened this off-season and shrugged off speculation surrounding the splitting up of his strike force of Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez.
“I think such speculation is normal; we have four top strikers and all the other teams in Europe would like strikers like them,” he declared before talking about Tevez in particular. The Argentinian has been first to the training ground most days and been chatting amicably at length with the boss.
“After January last year the problems with Carlos were finished,” insisted Mancini. “He came back to Manchester and his behaviour was good. He played a lot of games and scored important goals that helped us win the title.
“Now he has started the pre-season training very well.”
Mancini’s squad has been depleted because of rest and recuperation for players who featured in the recent European Championships won by Spain. However, there is a silver lining for the manager.
“It would have been good to have all the senior players here and work with them for a month but because of the European Championships that was not possible,” he accepted.
“I enjoy working with the young players very much because they are the future of the club. It is important that I work with them.”