Roberto Mancini berated his players for a "worse than poor" performance as Manchester City lost 3-1 at Southampton that left his City side with no more than a "10% chance" of preventing Manchester United reclaiming the Premier League title.
"We just didn't play," the fuming Mancini said. "We played maybe with two players. When it is 11 against two, it is difficult to win."
Southampton were excellent but City contributed to their own downfall as their sluggishness translated into costly errors, notably when Joe Hart bungled a straight-forward save to enable Steven Davis to put Southampton 2-0 up and then Gareth Barry put the ball into his own net to make it 3-1. he said: "We conceded two goals that were incredible for a top team like us." He then reminded the England goalkeeper that it was not the first time he has erred this season. The manager suggested that Hart and his team-mates may have become complacent.
"It's not strange because he did two or three mistakes this year and this is not good for us," he 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 said he does not believe that his job is in jeopardy, and defended his record at City. "I know I only won the Premier League and the FA Cup in two years but there are some managers who haven't won anything for 10 or 15 years. Don't worry about me, I am strong and I will resolve this."
It may not help his job security at the Etihad Stadium that he then appeared to attribute some of the blame for the team's problems to inadequate recruitment during the summer and January. "When you win a title, you need to improve the team. We did not. This is a problem."
Asked to assess City's title chances, he said: "We have a 10 per cent chance, maybe… We have 12 games, we need to respect our team and ourselves and see what we can do."