Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is back to playing mind games over who is favourite to win the Premier League next season.
The Blues boss blamed a failure to make any new signings since their title triumph as one of the reasons why City could be ranked as low as fourth in the league.
Instead, Mancini put rivals Manchester United as front-runners, citing their possible signing of Robin Van Persie as strong boost for the Red Devils.
"United start as favourites this year," he said. "We are maybe in second, third or fourth position."
He added: "If United buy Van Persie it is better for them. They need a player like Van Persie. He could play for any team because he is a top player."
But this is not the first time the Italian has played mind games about who is in the driving seat.
As United and City went head to head for glory in the tail end of last season, Mancini vehemently denied that City could win.
Even when City’s 2-0 win at Wolves in April put them within three points of United lead, Mancini still batted off the notion that victory was in their grasp.
“I’ve never bet in my life but if you were to ask I would say put your money on United, 100 per cent,” he said at the time.
“I don’t have a message for Sir Alex. If I did it would only be ‘Congratulations for your season and for this title’!”
The 47-year-old manager is now suggesting that having not acted quick in the transfer window following their League victory, the club are at a disadvantage
"When you win something it is important to improve," he said. "But you should not buy new players 10 days from the end of the window. It should be two months.”
Who Mancini's comments are meant for is yet to come clear. However the Italian has spoken of his frustration towards the club's sporting director Brian Marwood - who is currently juggling player signings against recent Uefa financial restrictions.
Mancini’s worries continue when it comes to City’s clash against Chelsea for the Community Shield tomorrow.
"We know it will not be easy. Chelsea are a strong team,” he said. "They have bought young players and also good players."
City are expected to be missing Mario Balotelli and David Silva from tomorrow’s Shield match – a title they have not won since 1972.
"It is important that we try to win because we have not won this cup for a long time and we want to start the season with a victory.”