Manchester: Roberto Mancini insists Manchester City can put their indifferent start behind them and win the Premier League title for a second successive season.
City, while unbeaten have begun their title defence in stuttering fashion with two wins and three draws from their opening five matches leaving then four points behind leaders Chelsea ahead of Saturday's potentially awkward match away to seventh-placed Fulham.
But City manager Mancini was in buoyant mood when he faced the media in Manchester on Friday.
"You need only to stay calm and work hard," said the Italian, when asked about his expensively-assembled team's slow start.
"We will win the title even though it is more difficult (in the) second year," he added.
There has been little evidence so far from City's players to back up Mancini's bold prediction.
Whereas last season they pipped neighbours Manchester United to the tile on the back of 17 clean sheets, City's defence has leaked seven goals in the first five games, and have yet to record a shut-out.
The 4-2 defeat by top-flight rivals Aston Villa in the English League Cup on Tuesday was the first time City had conceded more than three goals in a game for three years.
This time last season they had found the net 17 times, whereas this term they have managed 10 in five games.
"There are some moments where maybe you don't play well, the other team play better than you, you are unlucky. This is one of those moments," added Mancini, who defended his team's defensive record.
"It is difficult because we didn't have 14 players in pre-season, we had new players in the last day of the (transfer) market and it is clear we need the time for these new players.
"These are the reasons because we didn't work well in pre season, we didn't have all the defenders, this is normal.
"We concede only two goals more than last year, maybe we score less.
"Sometimes you don't concede a goal for 10 games and after you concede two goals for three or four games. That is football.
"This year we played away against Stoke, against Liverpool and we got the same results we got last year, two draws.
"We tried, against Stoke we had three or four chances, they scored one goal.
"This year, all these teams, Fulham, Sunderland, Stoke are better and every game will be more difficult than last year and tomorrow will be a really tough game. They (Fulham) play really well."
Samir Nasri is available after a hamstring problem but midfielder Jack Rodwell and defender Micah Richards are sidelined with hamstring and foot injuries respectively.
Mancini will be hoping his players emerge injury free against Fulham ahead of their clash with German champions Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League at Eastlands on Wednesday.