| MANCHESTER, England
MANCHESTER, England Oct 22 Premier League
leaders Manchester City must learn to emulate rivals United in
a key department -- winning matches even when playing badly.
City manager Roberto Mancini expressed the notion at a news
conference on Friday ahead of the big two squaring up for
Sunday's showdown at Old Trafford.
City, who top the standings by two points from Manchester
United, have spent more than 600 million pounds ($957 million
)building a team fit to rival Europe's finest, but getting the
better of United remains the ultimate benchmark.
Mancini suggested the biggest step would be to match the
mentality of the Old Trafford team.
He said: "United have one thing we don't have yet. When
they play badly they win the game and we are missing this."
Mancini pointed to United's wins against Norwich City and
Chelsea this season when their opponents had many chances and
said: "They are strong enough that even when they don't play
very well they win the game.
"The difference is psychological. When you win every year
your mind works very hard even if you're not in good form or the
team aren't in good form."
City have fallen victim to United's mental toughness in
recent derby matches, losing five of their last eight encounters
to late winning goals -- four in the 90th minute.
Last season at Old Trafford it took a spectacular
78th-minute bicycle kick by Wayne Rooney to divide the teams.
"We played well, they played well, the match was open till
the end. Rooney scored an incredible goal," Mancini recalled.
City recorded a United-style victory in the Champions League
on Tuesday, beating Spanish side Villarreal with a goal deep in
United manager Alex Ferguson believes they crossed a
psychological barrier by winning the FA Cup last season - City's
first major trophy since 1976. He told a news conference : "It
was a turning point."
Mancini's view entering Sunday's game is that City have
"reduced the gap" on their neighbours, but he suggested they
still had plenty to do.
While United won their 19th league title in May -- their 12th
under Ferguson -- City are involved in their first serious
pursuit of the championship since the 1970s. They won the last
of their two league titles back in 1968.
"They are the team that every year win something --
Premiership, Champions League, FA Cup," Mancini said.
"You have Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and you
work to become like them, this should be our target," he added.
"I don't know if it is impossible and in how many years we can
do this but we want to become one of the top clubs in Europe."
(Editing by Dave Thompson. To comment on this story: