Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has refused to concede the Premier League champions’ title chances this season.
City trail cross-town rivals Manchester United by seven points but after a busy festive period, Kompany feels he and his team-mates have the graft required to turn the tide after last season’s staggering last-day heroics.
“What I would say is that a couple of years ago, had we fallen seven points behind, we would all have said to ourselves that it would be very difficult,” Kompany said.
“But now we’ve done it, nobody panics. Everything is still possible. We have proved what we can do and everybody is very calm.
“That’s the advantage you get when you win it once. You have that inner confidence.
“When you’ve won the title, you aim for another one. That’s not just the ambition for 2013, but for the future of the club.”
United have piled the pressure on with eight wins in their past nine games, during which time City have dropped eight points.
A last-gasp home loss to United and 1-0 reverse at Sunderland halted City’s momentum, but with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side still in the Champions League, Roberto Mancini’s may be able to capitalise on that in February if they can cut out the poor performances.
“The reason we’re not closer to United is not that we’ve been playing badly,” he said. “We’ve only lost two games, which is not a bad record at this stage of the season.
“But United are doing extremely well and, if they continue to play like they have been doing, it will be difficult.
“But we’re perfectly capable of having a long, long winning streak that will bring us very close. So it’s a good challenge.”
Hurting City’s cause will the departure of Yaya Toure for the Africa Cup of Nations during the next six-week block, while defender and brother Kolo will also be unavailable.
“Yaya has played every game and that shows you how important he is for the team,” Kompany said.
“But that’s something we’ll have to deal with. It is like having an injury, it happens. We believe we have enough players to step up and make the difference.”