Roberto Mancini has staunchly defended his position, claiming that, if Manchester City should sack him, then every other Premier League club should also lose their manager.
City, who host Leeds United on Sunday in the FA Cup fifth round, are 12 points behind Manchester United in the league with 12 games remaining. Yet despite this margin Mancini believes City can still win the league and that his position should not be under scrutiny.
"We started our project three years ago," he said. "In three years we are always at the top. We fight for the title, we have won three trophies and we have the chance to win more this year. All the people who talk about this don't understand football. Because if Manchester City should sack me, the other teams in the Premier League should be without a manager."
Mancini sarcastically laughed off suggestions that some former City players believe he should be sacked if the club are knocked out of the Cup this weekend. "Probably they are players that won a lot of trophies in the history [of the club]."
Mancini believes last season's championship, the club's first in 44 years, achieved in his second full season in charge, has heightened expectation unrealistically. "We won the Premier League maybe too quickly because usually it is four or five years for a team like City to do this," he said.
Despite the speculation, the Italian said he and the club hierarchy continue to plan for the future, with Mancini and the chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, engaged in regular discussions. "I speak with Khaldoon every week," he said. "He is like me. When we lose he has my mentality, he is upset and disappointed but this is normal and it's correct in football unless you are [unfeeling] inside you. After you lose you can't be happy for 24 hours. After that you need to think about the future. We have a good relationship. At this moment they aren't happy because when you lose you can't be happy but I think they are happy with our job over the three years."
Mancini denied the title race is over. "I don't think like this," he said. "I have another mentality. I always think we can win everything. We have 12 games. We need to do our best, not look at the table because it is not important now. We are a good team. We did some mistakes and lost some stupid points. We don't deserve to stay 12 points behind but United deserve to stay on top at this moment – we will see what happens.
"I think that it is a difficult moment because we lost seven points in three games but in football sometimes it is strange. When you think it is finished, three or four games can change everything. While we have the points available to win, we should believe in ourselves.
"We play the derby in [early] April and from now until then we have six games – we need to look at what happens in the next six games. If we reduce the gap before the derby … But it's not important to look at the table, it's important to win, win, win."
Following last Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Southampton Mancini was publicly scathing of his players, claiming they lacked "balls". Does his squad understand the criticism? "I think that the players know they didn't do their job at Southampton and sometimes it is important they take the responsibility Sometimes that is better [to go public]," he said.
Did the players accept it? "I think so."
Mancini denied that was the angriest he had been since taking over. "No. I said I was disappointed with them because they played a bad game. I don't think a team like us can play a game like this. We can lose when the team we play perform better than us. But not like this because a team like us should be trying to score, score, score. We did very badly."
Regarding how City may line up against Leeds, Mancini added: "We play with the best team. I will do some changes because I have two or three players injured but after that I will play with the best team."
Vincent Kompany's calf problem means he will not be risked.