Sir Alex Ferguson is admitting that Manchester United’s draw to Everton could be ‘very costly’ despite rival boss Roberto Mancini insisting that no one expected City to win the Premier League.
After a late Everton comeback, to draw 4-4, ruined United’s day, Manchester City cut the gap at the top of the Premier League to three points after relegating Wolves.
And both managers have declared that next Monday’s derby is crucial in deciding which half of Manchester lifts the league trophy.
United boss said: "We've thrown a game away that we should be coasting.
"It was terrible defending and a lack of concentration from us."
He added: "It could be costly."
Although next week’s result cannot actually decide the title, Ferguson accepts it may well be the deciding factor despite tricky trips to the North East for both clubs.
When questioned if this was the most important deby he has known, Fergie said ‘Yes, definitely’.
"We've given them initiative, there is no doubt about that.
"It makes the game at the Etihad a really important game. A decider really.
"There has been an expectancy from City that it could be their decider, but it's our decider too."
But a defeated Mancini is adamant the title is ‘not in our hands’ despite City being almost certain to finish top if they win their remaining fixtures.
He said: "We have another chance but United have a bigger chance than us at this moment [to win the title].
"We have three difficult games against United, Newcastle and QPR. Newcastle are fighting for the Champions League and QPR are fighting to avoid relegation.
"After the derby, United have two games which are not easy, but not difficult like us.
"Only one team can win this title. It's not in our hands. We have three points less.
"In any case, you all wrote the title race was finished. Seven days ago, the race was finished. You wrote it.
"Therefore I congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson on a good season."
Mancini’s mind games continue as he looked to shift the pressure off of himself and his team and pile it on top of an experience United side.
Mancini said: "I don't think [United] have pressure because they are used to it every year.
"For us, it's different because it's the first time. At the moment, we don't have any pressure because we are not expected to win.
"But we want to finish well. It's important for our season."