Roberto Mancini insisted Manchester City are still in the Premier League title race despite the 2-2 draw with Liverpool that left them trailing Manchester United by nine points with 13 games left.
The Italian was unhappy at Liverpool's opening goal, which equalised Edin Dzeko's earlier strike, as he believed there had been a foul on Dzeko by Daniel Agger and that play should have been stopped as his striker lay on the ground. Instead Liverpool continued and Daniel Sturridge scored. In the second half goals from Steven Gerrard and Sergio Agüero meant City only shared the points.
Mancini pointed to Chelsea overhauling United in the 2009-10 season – they were eight points behind with six matches remaining – as evidence that City are still title contenders.
"The championship is not over, absolutely not, because of last season and also two years ago [actually three]. I don't think it is finished," the manager said. "There is room for mistakes. I think we probably need to win all of our games but, if not all, 11, 12 games. But this is football and this can happen sometimes.
"I think that, like last year, we recovered eight points in six games. I don't know why this cannot happen this year. The season is long, there are three months to go, and they [United] have to play FA Cup and Champions League. We are confident. The players believe too.
"It is possible to pick up two or three points soon and we can go to the derby [on 6 April] maybe two or three points behind.
"I'm disappointed because we didn't play well. Probably Liverpool played better in the first half. But I'm disappointed for the first goal because, if it was Vinnie [Vincent Kompany] to do that fault, probably it was a red card. Instead the referee didn't give anything. The linesman, who for 10 minutes saw everything for Liverpool, he didn't see that fault."
Asked if he was angry with Dzeko who appeared not to be injured when he finally got to his feet, Mancini said: "No. I think that could be normal. Sometimes we can do a mistake like the referee. The referee does a mistake every game and we are men like the referee."
Mancini suggested Liverpool should have stopped when Dzeko did not initially get up. "Probably because they score after maybe 15 seconds. Because Dzeko was on the floor, we didn't know what happened. I think that in the end the result is correct," he said.
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, said: "The goal was quite clear. Both bodies get tangled up, Dzeko thinks it is a free-kick, Agger did what good defenders do and nicked the ball – the referee told Sturridge and Gerrard to carry on."
Sturridge added: "The referee told us to play on for my goal, we abide by what he says.
"We played on and scored, the City fans weren't happy but we were just abiding by the words."
James Milner agreed with Mancini that City cannot afford any further slips. "Two points lost today, as we have to pretty much win every game now," he told the BBC. "Liverpool were always going to be a difficult game, and I think the two goals from Sergio Aguero and Stevie G were outstanding, so maybe a draw was fair.
"When we are on top of games we should be putting teams to bed. Everyone says how difficult it is to defend your title, but as a player you do not think about it."