Manchester City: Joe Hart says season can still be a success

 

Joe Hart says that a second-place finish for Manchester City would not mean the season has been a failure.

The reigning champions sit 15 points behind leaders Manchester United ahead of Monday's derby, but have an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to.

Hargreaves on the title race

Owen Hargreaves

Ex-Manchester City and Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has been talking to BBC Radio 5 live ahead of Monday's derby:

"City probably has the best squad of players, with United, so I would be surprised if they finished anything other than first or second.

"It probably has not been the best season this time around. Last season was so exciting, it did so much for the Premier League brand in a way.

"This season it's April and it's virtually decided."

Asked what a second-place finish and victory at Wembley would mean, the 25-year-old goalkeeper told Football Focus: "We've got to look to win our last seven games and two in the cup.

"That has to be seen as successful."

After winning the club's first top-flight title in 44 years thanks to Sergio Aguero's dramatic last-minute winner against Queens Park Rangers in May 2012, manager Roberto Mancini's side have endured a more low-key campaign this time around.

A 2-0 defeat by Everton last month all but ended their already-slim title chances despite having nine games still to play at that stage.

Mancini believes United are flattered by the size of their advantage at the top of the table, and hopes to close the gap between the sides before the season ends.

"We do not deserve to be 15 points behind Manchester United. They play very well and have won a lot of games and they deserved to stay on top but not by 15 points," he said.

"The table is not true. Now we have eight games and if we win a lot of those games maybe we can close that gap."

In December, City went out of the Champions League in the group phase for the second season in succession, in the process registering the lowest haul of points by an English club in the 20-year history of the competition.

Hope remains in the FA Cup, however, where they face a last-four tie with Chelsea on 14 April.

England goalkeeper Hart called on his team-mates to learn from the setbacks they have experienced and "keep moving forward".

City slide?

  • This time last year, Manchester City had already exited the Champions League and FA Cup, but were only five points off leaders Manchester United in the Premier League table
  • While enduring Champions League disappointment again this season, they face an FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea and are 15 points off the pace in the top flight

"You have to keep re-evaluating the season," he said. "We have had disappointments in the league and Champions League but you have to move forward and appreciate it's not all set up for us.

"We have to keep moving forward and learning."

Despite falling well behind in the title race, when asked what is at stake in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, Hart replied: "A lot.

"It is a cliche but we play for our fans, and for ourselves. It looks like the title is not going our way but we have a lot to play for.

"We are looking for three points and to get as big a tally as we can."