ROBERTO MANCINI insists his Manchester City side WILL defend their Premier League title this season.
But the Italian has warned his troops that last season’s mid-table sides have stepped up a gear.
City take on Fulham this weekend having shipped seven goals in their four Premier League games to date.
It is a far cry from their defensive solidity last season, where Vincent Kompany and Co conceded just 29 in 38.
Boss Mancini is not concerned, though, and when asked whether it would be tougher to triumph this time around, he replied: “Yes, but we will win.
“We will win the title.”
Quizzed about the leaky start to the season by his defence, the Italian added: “Football is like this — sometimes you don’t concede a goal for 10 games, then maybe for two or three games you concede three or four goals.
“We can improve this only if we work hard and have more concentration.”
Fulham finished an impressive ninth last term under boss Martin Jol and have beefed up their attack during the summer with the signings of Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United and Hugo Rodallega from Wigan.
Mancini added: “This year, all these teams like Fulham Sunderland and Stoke are better teams.
“Every game will be more difficult than last year. The game in London will be tough.”