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24 Oct 2011

Roberto Mancini insisted Manchester City had not overtaken Manchester United as the Premier League's major power - despite thrashing the champions 6-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

City extended their lead at the top of the table to five points as United set some unhappy statistics and left boss Sir Alex Ferguson confessing to being "shattered" by the scale of the defeat.

The margin of defeat was United's worst at home since 1955 and the first time they had conceded six at Old Trafford since 1930 as City ran riot, with Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko scoring twice and Sergio Aguero and David Silva completing the rout.

But Mancini said: "United are still one yard above us and we can only change this if we win the title. After that it might be different but until then United are better than us."

He added: "I still have big respect for United and for their squad. There are still four or five teams who can win the title and the season is long."

Mancini also insisted that Balotelli, in the headlines after a firework went off inside his house on Saturday morning, can become one of the top three players in the world.

The 21-year-old Italian scored twice but was booked by referee Mark Clattenburg for displaying a T-shirt bearing the slogan "Why Always Me?" after his opening goal.

Mancini said: "I hope for him, and for football in general, that the day will arrive when Mario changes his mind completely because after this he will become one of the best three players in the world like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"The supporters like Mario because he is crazy. I love him as a guy. I don't know what has happened [over the fireworks]. The only important thing is that Mario and his friend were OK.

"I think Mario played very well. If we want to talk about Mario as a football player, I think we can put him in the first five players in the world. The problem is that he is young and can make mistakes."

Mancini also explained a positive tactical approach that saw Aguero, Balotelli, Silva and James Milner all start, adding: "If we had played with [defensive midfielder] Nigel de Jong, we would have played with only one striker and I wanted to play with two strikers.

"I watched three or four games United had in the last month and they conceded a lot of chances. Also we started the season with two strikers and played very well.

"I am satisfied because we beat United away. I don't think there are a lot of teams that can win here. This is important for our squad and I am happy for the three points, but in the end it is three points - we don't take six points."

"You could hear the fans today and we are delighted for them. We're a unit - the players, the staff, the fans - and that is how we roll."

City keeper Joe Hart also warned his team-mates to keep their feet on the ground.

"We've got to stay level headed," he said. "We're a winning side and a team of winners but you don't get extra points by winning by that margin or by beating Manchester United."

Source: bbc.co.uk

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