MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Manchester City would be a deserved winner of the Premier League after playing the most attractive football in England, according to manager Roberto Mancini.
City hosts struggling Queens Park Rangers in the final round of fixtures on Sunday needing only to match crosstown rival Manchester United's result at Sunderland to secure a first title since 1968.
''I'm very proud because I think my players worked very well this year,'' Mancini said. ''Maybe on Sunday we don't win the title, but we have played the best football in England.''
City led the Premier League for most of the season, until a wobble in March allowed United to establish an eight-point advantage.
But United's uncharacteristic slip-ups - losing at Wigan and throwing away a two-goal lead with 10 minutes to play in a 4-4 draw against Everton - allowed City to seize the initiative with a 1-0 victory in the Manchester derby 12 days ago.
''When I say that I want to win for our supporters, it's because I understand (they) don't win a title for maybe 50 years and stay in a city where our cousin wins every year,'' Mancini said. ''I think that is very difficult for our supporters, but now I hope that maybe they can be happy after Sunday. (The players) know they have everything in their hands.''
City has also scored more than United while conceding fewer goals in a campaign that has City fans dreaming of the end of the 44-year title drought.
''It's important to score enough goals to win the title, this is important,'' Mancini said. ''I think we played for six or seven months the best football in the Premier League. It's impossible to play well for the whole year. For one month we had a problem, but this is normal.''
What may not be normal, Mancini joked, would be maverick striker Mario Balotelli's exuberance if City finally clinches the title.
Balotelli is an infamous prankster whose list of off-field indiscretions includes once setting his house on fire by launching fireworks from his bathroom window.
''If we win it will be better to stay far away from Mario,'' said Mancini with a grin. ''Because it will be dangerous.''