Roberto Mancini has told his players they have the chance to change the history of Manchester City and begin an era of regular silverware if they beat Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Mancini optimistic City can be dominant Manchester club
MANCHESTER // Roberto Mancini has told his players they have the chance to change the history of Manchester City and begin an era of regular silverware if they beat Manchester United at Wembley Stadium tomorrow.
City will be without top scorer Carlos Tevez, who has been ruled out for three or four weeks with a hamstring tear, for the FA Cup semi-final, but Mancini is confident his captain will play again this season.
And the Italian believes his side can recover from Monday's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool to end United's treble hopes and send City into a final against either Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City that he would expect to win.
Rather than pre-match nerves, Mancini insisted he remained "cool" but his rhetoric was bullish. "I'm sure that if we get to the final we will win the cup," he said. "If we win the FA Cup and go in the Champions League next year we will play to win the title.
"From next year everything would be different. I don't know if United think that but I think it will be different if we win. They know that Manchester City are an important team now. We have improved every year, and in the future Manchester City will be an important club in the world. If we win the FA Cup, it will change everything."
United have been the country's as well as the city's dominant force over the past decades, but Mancini is sure that one trophy for City will lead to others.
"When one team wins every year, or wins everything for the last 15 years, it's difficult. But it's more difficult to start to win," he said. "That's why I think that if we get to the final and win this trophy the mentality will change."
Mancini has to choose between Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko to spearhead the attack but is adamant his side can prosper without Tevez.
"Both Mario and Edin know this is an important chance for them, he said. "We don't think that if Carlos doesn't play we can't win. Anything can happen in one game against United. Who would have thought that Birmingham could beat Arsenal [in the Carling Cup final]?"
City also have the incentive of reaching the final for their sidelined captain, who will be fit by then. "I hope he can recover for the last three games maybe because it's a serious injury," Mancini said.
His options in defence are bolstered by the swift recovery of Micah Richards from a hamstring injury. "Micah is available. He trained two days ago and again yesterday. He will be OK."
The 46-year-old was unconcerned by a display of dissent from James Milner when substituted at Anfield, saying: "I like it when a player is not happy when he comes off the pitch or doesn't play but this doesn't say he doesn't respect his manager. James is a good guy."
Mancini is convinced that he has his players' full backing as City close in on a first major honour since 1976.
"It would be stupid because, like me, the players have a good chance," he said. "It's important for these players because it could be their first trophy."
He was unworried, too, by Jose Mourinho, his successor at Inter Milan, saying he could never manage City. "Also for me it's difficult that I can go to Real Madrid," Mancini said.