MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Angry Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini is ready to ring the changes after his team's 3-1 defeat at Southampton left the champions trailing Manchester United by 12 points in the Premier League, with only 12 games to go.
City was a shadow of its former self during Saturday's loss and Mancini, who is under pressure to keep his side's title chances alive, is in no mood to carry any passengers.
''I am sure we will change that, because I will change players next week,'' the Italian coach told Monday's edition of the Manchester Evening News newspaper. ''I only want players who are ready for the fight in the last 12 games.''
As for his frustration at the tame display at Southampton, Mancini did not hold back.
''I am very angry with a lot of my players, and very disappointed at the performance, because it is impossible to play the way we did,'' he said. ''We didn't fight for every ball. We can't always win by playing well - that is normal. Sometimes we play well and win, but you also need to be able to win because you fight for every ball, and fight against an opponent who also wants to win the game.
''Every team that plays against us treats it like a Champions League final, but we should know this, it is normal.''
Mancini made it clear he expects an improvement in the weeks ahead, and also highlighted the way his side had wrested the Premier League trophy from Manchester United last season - winning its final six matches to close down United's eight-point lead.
''We now have 12 games left, (we) need to do well in the Premier League, and we have the FA Cup - there are games left and we can do better,'' Mancini said. ''We need to finish the season the way we did last year.''
The first changes are expected in the team selection for Sunday's FA Cup fifth-round game against second-tier Leeds.
Along with targeting his own players, Mancini also criticized the timing of last week's international matches that have left him without some of his key players.
''The fixtures are ridiculous sometimes, as we played on Saturday and then had six players who came back on Friday, and five who came back Thursday night,'' he lamented. ''Sometimes it is impossible.''
Team captain Vincent Kompany and Carlos Tevez are both set to return this this week, as are Matija Nastasic and Kolo Toure who were not risked at the Saints game after late returns from international duty.