Mancini: City deserves Champions League
Roberto Mancini has warned UEFA Champions League-bound Manchester City not to take the gloss off their European success by messing up in Saturday's FA Cup final.
Mancini immediately set his sights on securing the club major silverware for the first time in 35 years after overcoming Tottenham 1-0 to seal a top-four finish. It means City will compete in the Champions League play-offs next season although they could still secure an automatic passage to the group stages should they win their last two league games and finish above third-placed Arsenal.
Mancini said he was thrilled for City's supporters after making it into the Champions League. But the Italian has told his players not to undo all the hard work by losing to Stoke in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
"I am happy because qualifying for the Champions League was our first target," said the former Inter Milan manager. We deserve the Champions League because we have been in the top four for most of the season. I'm very proud because City supporters are very happy. This is for them. I'm happy personally. It's important to have a target and we have achieved that target."
"It could be difficult to finish third but there are two games left. Now we are just thinking about the FA Cup final on Saturday. We have expended a lot of energy against Tottenham and it will not be easy against Stoke. Saturday will be a hard game. If we think it's going to be easy then that will be a big mistake."
Whether talismanic Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez plays at Wembley remains to be seen. Tevez had missed the previous four games with a damaged hamstring but came on for the final seven minutes against Tottenham, who lost after Peter Crouch's own goal. "It was important he played," added Mancini. "Will he be fit for the FA Cup final? I want to take all the time to decide this."
Redknapp eyes hard road
Tottenham are left to battle with Liverpool for fifth spot and a place in the UEFA Europa League. And manager Harry Redknapp believes it is going to be difficult for his side to repeat last season's exploits when they finished fourth. "Manchester United are never going to drop out," said Redknapp. "Chelsea are never going to drop out and Arsenal haven't dropped out of the top four in years. Manchester City have billions to spend and Liverpool are a top team.
"We have been playing well but we haven't been able to finish teams off. The biggest problem we have had is that we have lost Gareth Bale to injury and the World Cup has finally caught up on Rafael van der Vaart. That's been a big problem for us. But overall, it's probably been one of the best seasons Tottenham have had for years."
Redknapp believes City could be a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League. "I seems to me they can go as far as they want to go," he added. "The sky is the limit. They are a good side but I wouldn't say they were better than us. There's still not too many teams better than us."