Mancini: City worthy of Champions League
Roberto Mancini believes his Manchester City side are on course to meet their targets for the season after closing in on UEFA Champions League qualification with a 2-1 win over West Ham on Sunday.
Mancini has faced questions about his future throughout the campaign after seeing his team slip out of contention for the Premier League title and get knocked out of the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals by Dynamo Kiev. But with the chance to end City's 35-year trophy drought in the FA Cup final against Stoke on 14 May, his team are also now seven points clear of Liverpool and Tottenham in the league.
With four games left, six points will definitely secure a place in Europe's top competition for the first time. Mancini believes his team have proved they are worthy of Champions League football by spending the last seven months in the top four.
"We are not under pressure, we know that we have a big chance at this moment. Our target at the start of the season was the Champions League and now we are in fourth, seven points above Tottenham and Liverpool and we have the FA Cup. I think we did a good job until now."
Even though it will take a collapse for them to let their top-four place slip away, Mancini maintains his players will not be easing off in the Premier League ahead of the FA Cup final. And he has demanded a positive result against Everton to take into the match against Spurs on 10 May.
He added: "We will relax after May 22 but before? No. We have four games and the other teams have three games, the next game will be very hard for us but it's important to (guarantee the top four) soon. We have the next game before (the Tottenham match) and after that we will know how many points we will be ahead but everything is in our hands."
Nigel de Jong opened the scoring at Eastlands with his first goal for the club and the Netherlands midfielder should be fit for the trip to Goodison Park after being taken off at half time as a precaution over a heel injury. Lars Jacobsen touched Pablo Zabaleta's cross into his own net and even though Demba Ba halved the deficit, West Ham failed to find an equaliser and they are deep in relegation trouble heading into the final three matches. They face Blackburn at home next weekend and finish the season with a trip to Wigan and a home game against Sunderland.
Manager Avram Grant believes it will take at least seven points from those three matches to keep West Ham, who have lost their last five games, in the Premier League. "I think it will be between seven and nine points. In the last two games most of the teams fighting relegation were playing at home and I thought they would take more points than they did," said Grant.
"I thought it would be nine and now I think it might be seven. We need to take the points, there's no doubt about this. We can't do anything except taking points but we have shown even today that we can do it.
"The next game is the most important and it's a big challenge. If we win everything will be open and we don't need to think about other things like pressure. It's just about one thing, to score one goal more, that's all."