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O'Neill lashes Mancini over 'United's easy run-in' claim

Martin O'Neill has delivered a withering response to Roberto Mancini's claim that Manchester United have an easy run-in in the title race, by pointing out that his Sunderland side have taken four points from Manchester City this season.

Sunderland host United on the final day of the campaign and O'Neill was unimpressed with Mancini's view that it would be an easy game for their title rivals.

In a stinging rebuke to the Italian, O'Neill mocked City's record against his side and admitted he had considered contacting Mancini to tell him to keep his mouth shut in the future.

Sunderland beat City 1-0 at the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day and were only denied another win in the return fixture at the Etihad Stadium by two City goals in the final five minutes in a 3-3 draw.

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Swansea, United's other opponents after the Manchester derby on Monday night, have also beaten City this season and O'Neill accused Mancini of failing to understand English football.

"It took me by surprise because I had to check that the teams United have to play beat Manchester City, like Swansea and ourselves," said O'Neill. "We have taken four points off Manchester City.

"I don't have an email address for him, but I thought about sending him one to tell him to keep an eye on what he says in the future."

Mancini has gone toe-to-toe with Alex Ferguson in the media during a dramatic end to the season and his comments were similar to the ones the Scot used to get under the skin of Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan at the end of the 1995-96 campaign.

Mancini may well feel he has got the desired response from the Sunderland manager, although O'Neill did not like the attempt to manipulate him or his players.

"I don't know what his insinuation was," he added. "But if he had any idea about the league at all he would know that the integrity of the league is pretty good. We still want to finish in the top 10." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent