Roberto Mancini has laughed off claims by his Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson that City are not playing the best football in England.

29661 - Mancini brushes off Ferguson jibe

City are leading the race for the Premier League title and will take on second-placed United in a third-round FA Cup tie on Sunday. But ahead of the derby clash, Ferguson suggested it is Tottenham who have played the best football so far this season.

"It is difficult to say your neighbour is playing better football," Mancini said. "Tottenham can win the title. They have done a fantastic season until now and in the next four months, I don't know. But, for now, we are playing the best football in the Premier League.

"In every city where there are two teams, the rivalry is very intense. Rome, Milan, it is strong everywhere.

"In Milan it might be different because for a long time Inter and Milan stayed at the top. They won European Cups and championships. But, remember, before I arrived at Inter, they didn't win for 19 years. For Inter this was very difficult because Milan won a lot of trophies.

"It is the same situation here. It is clear Manchester City doesn't have Inter's history but they have also started to build a new team, a strong team and has got to the same level as the other one."

City defeated their rivals in the semi-finals last year en route to FA Cup glory, and won 6-1 at Old Trafford in October, leaving Mancini's men on the brink of a hat-trick of derby victories for the first time since 1969. Mancini, though, concedes it will take more than just recent triumphs for his club to match United's famous mental strength.

"If you want my opinion, Manchester United are the best team in England," he said. "Maybe not now because they have six or seven important players injured. But they have a strong team with a strong mentality and they are at the top.

"We can't be like them in two years. They have had this mentality for 25 years. We can improve if we continue to win, if we win the championship or other cups. We started it last season. But in two years it is impossible."