When you’re the manager of the richest team in England, that has spent quite lavishly yet unwisely in yet another summer transfer window, and you’re already out of the Champions League and 7 points behind in the title race, you gotta make excuses to make it look like it’s not your fault. By talking about Robin van Persie as the difference between City and Manchester United, Roberto Mancini is doing just that.

One of the bigger summer transfer sagas was where Robin van Persie will land, his leaving Arsenal a 100% thing. Initially, it looked like Juventus, as Van Persie declared he doesn’t want to play against Arsenal, preferring not to sell him to a Premier League club. Juventus talked, but didn’t put up the right kind of money. That left Manchester City and Manchester United. Of the two, Wenger decided he wasn’t going to sell Van Persie to City, no matter what, not after they’ve already signed too many of his players in the past few years.

So after a short period where it actually seemed like Arsene Wenger managed to convince Van Persie to stay, the decision was made. Manchester United, for £24 million. A good deal for both sides – last contract year for Van Persie, while United were getting a proven star and goal scorer.

Van Persie has gone on to score 14 Premier League so far this season, as United are scorching offensively while having quite a lot of problems in the back. It doesn’t matter – they lead the league by 7 points, and have won away matches against their two biggest rivals on the way to the title, winning at Chelsea and Manchester City 3-2. Robin van Persie scored in both matches.

Robin van Persie is a very important player for United. He has changed their situation. He is the difference between us. We wanted Van Persie because we knew he could be an important player. He is totally different from our other strikers. We wanted him for the Champions League and for the Premier League. We were very close. We were sure he was for us but this did not happen and now we can do nothing. We were very close three or four months before he joined United. Money was not the problem.

Despite having Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, Calros Tevez and Mario Balotelli at his disposal, Mancini, and anyone supporting the club, isn’t happy with the amount of goals City have been scoring – 38 in 20 matches compared to the 50 United have netted in. A closer look might suggest that there’s a bigger problem with the creative midfield, the ability and inconsistency of Samir Nasri and David Silva, playing well beneath their quality level from last season. Still, it’s more comfortable blaming it on a player you didn’t get, shifting the responsibility from yourself.

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