ROBERTO Mancini hit out at the midweek international programme after seeing his Manchester City side embarrassed at St Mary’s.

The Italian believes a number of his players returned to City’s Carrington training base looking jaded.

“All of the players came back Thursday night or Friday and when you have 16 players away on international duty it is difficult to prepare,” he said.

“Sometimes the fixtures are ridiculous because they don't think about this but we played a bad game.”

Mancini was not the only one with players away, though.

Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino saw Steven Davis, Maya Yoshida and Artur Boruc play international football on Wednesday, while Luke Shaw was ruled out of the game on Saturday night after picking up an injury while on England under-21 duty.

City are now an outside bet to retain the Premier League crown they secured in such extraordinary standards on the final day of last season and Mancini thinks he knows what is to blame.

“We need to work more,” he said.

“Probably we think that, because we won last year, we are top players.

“But if you want to stay on the top for a long time you have to work always and forget what you did last year.”

All the Saints news and comment in today's Daily Echo