Roberto Mancini has revealed he is planning a long-term stay at Manchester City. As Inter Milan prepare for Saturday's Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Madrid, Mancini could be forgiven a few baleful sighs at the life he has left behind. Mancini will not even participate in the competition with Manchester City next season after the Abu Dhabi-owned club lost out to Tottenham in the battle for that prized top-four spot.
Yet, while Mancini may be happy being back in Italy and united with his family once more, he has no desire to work in Serie A at the moment and cannot wait for the new Premier League campaign to begin in August. "I have always felt confident this would be a long-term project," said Mancini who met with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the club's owner, and Khaldoon al Mubarek, the chairman, in the capital last week.
"It is a huge job and a fantastic job because the Premier League is fantastic. It is so different compared to Italy. "I am sorry about that because I am Italian and I love Italian football. But all the stadiums in Italy are empty. This is no good for football. Here, all the stadiums are full." Meanwhile, West Ham look set to step up their search for a "high-calibre manager" - with Avram Grant ready to walk into the Upton Park hotseat.
Grant, the manager who led Portsmouth to the FA Cup final, is said to be top of the Hammers' wanted list to replace Gianfranco Zola, who was axed last week as David Gold and David Sullivan, the co-owners aim, to take the club forwards following a campaign which flirted with relegation. "Our efforts are focused on recruiting a high-calibre manager with the necessary experience to deliver good football and, most importantly, results," a joint statement read.
"A shortlist of candidates has been identified and the appointment will be made with enough time to prepare for pre-season." While the new owners have made no secret of being open to offers for players as they look to slash the Irons' wage bill, there will also be proactive moves in the transfer market as part of the "10-point pledge". The statement continued: "For too long, the focus has been on players leaving rather than arriving.
"We will strengthen in the right areas to ensure an exciting and balanced squad that is well placed to cope with the rigours of a Premier League season. "Our main aim will be to bring in players hungry to do well who share our ambitions and aspirations. "We will make sure homegrown talent nurtured in the 'West Ham way' will always be given the chance to complement established players brought in from elsewhere."
Elsewhere, Rafael Benitez is confident Liverpool will still be able to attract high-class signings this summer despite the absence of Champions League football next season. "Liverpool is a massive club and can attract top-class players because of their name and their history and the quality we have in the squad," said the manager. "Always we have targets in mind. We have been working and preparing the targets and every year is the same." However, whether the Spaniard is there is coach them remains to be seen as his long-term future at Anfield remains unresolved. * Agencies