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The England international believes City's tough start to the season is a burden league champions must bear, and has backed his side to come through their difficult patch

Gareth Barry admits Manchester City have not produced anywhere near their best football this season.

Roberto Mancini's men remain unbeaten in the Premier League and sit just one point behind leaders Chelsea, but have won few admirers with a series of uninspiring performances.

Barry agrees he and his team-mates are yet to hit the heights of last season, but insists defending the club's first league title since 1968 was always going to be harder than winning it.

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"The start of the season is completely different to what we experienced last year – not getting out of the blocks and not getting going,” the 31-year-old told reporters.

"But I think this season is what being champions is all about. You're going to find it tougher and the games will be harder.

"People want to beat you that little bit more and this is what we're finding out."

Mancini's men found themselves booed off by their own fans after a goalless first half against Swansea on Saturday, but Barry insists the City faithful retain the right to express any discontent they may feel.

"The fans can sometimes feel that way because we've lost in midweek and hope that we bounce back, but you've got to give credit to the opposition,” he added.

"It was difficult in midweek with the result against Ajax, but we've bounced back and got three massive points.

"It was never going to be easy. The third game in a week never is. With the squad we've got at the moment, it's the same sort of players so there's no real freshness.

"The performance wasn't great, but we got across the line with a clean sheet and now we can move on.

"We're high up the table and have a free week now so hopefully we can get some people back from injuries."

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