Manchester City are not receiving the credit they deserve after seemingly falling just short in the Premier League title race, according to West Brom head coach Roy Hodgson.
The Baggies boss, whose side are on Wednesday evening in action at the Etihad Stadium, insists City have made substantial progress under Roberto Mancini despite their recent slump in fortunes.
United could secure the title by this weekend if results go in their favour before Sunday's encounter with Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Hodgson said: "They've done very well. Unfortunately for Roberto, there is some negativity surrounding them, because they haven't been able to keep the championship race going down to the wire.
"That is a bit of disappointment on everyone's part. We were all hoping for a last-ditch battle between United and City to see who wins the championship.
"Now, with five or six games to go, it is pretty obvious it is going to be Manchester United and congratulations to them.
"As a result, City, who have made it such a fascinating battle and made life so hard for them, they are now not receiving the praise they deserve for keeping the fighting going for as long as they have.
"To be honest, finishing second isn't such a bad thing either. It's a long while since City have finished second. You've got to go back to the Joe Mercer-Malcolm Allison days."
When asked if Mancini had made progress, Hodgson said: "There is no question of that. It doesn't matter whether you have a lot of money or no money to spend.
"You've still got to do the best job you can do with the players at your disposal. This year, Manchester City have had a successful season, because they look like finishing second in the Premier League.
"Any team who does that have had a good season. Whether or not that's good enough for the owners in relation to the money they have spent, that's not for me to talk about."
Meanwhile, Hodgson has an open mind as to whether the Premier League will be worse off should Mario Balotelli leave City.
Hodgson said: "He is a talent and there are lots of talents. I'm sure if Balotelli leaves the Premier League he will be replaced by another top-quality player and top-quality talent.
"I don't think it is right to talk about the Premier League being a stronger or poorer place just because a talented player comes or goes."