x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Mancini wants the focus on one game at a time

Roberto Mancini has told his Manchester City players not to ease off as they close in on the European Champions League spot.

Roberto Mancini has told his Manchester City players not to ease off as they close in on the European Champions League spot.

And a place in the tournament could be secured as early as today should City overcome Everton at Goodison Park and Tottenham Hotspur lose to Blackpool in a later game.

More likely, City will have to wait until a home encounter with Spurs on Tuesday to confirm their status.

"It is important to reach the Champions League by the end of the season," Mancini said. "It doesn't matter whether it is [today] or Tuesday, or any of the four games we still have left.

"We need another four points. Then we would be 100 per cent sure. It was the first target we had when we started the season and at this moment we have a big chance. But we have done nothing yet."

Even if City do complete their task, there are some who feel it will still represent a missed opportunity and that Mancini overestimated the strengths of Manchester United and Chelsea in what has largely been derided as a substandard Premier League.

The Italian coach feels the lure of Champions League competition could attract the additional talent that would ensure the problems City have encountered this season can be overcome.

"We had a problem when we had five or six important players injured at a crucial moment between February and March and lost some games," he said. "This experience will be very important next year.

"It is important that we go to the Champions League because we still need to improve.

"If we can buy some more good players, we have a chance."

Given the proximity, not just to one of those coveted top-four berths, but also to ending that 35-year wait for a trophy, which they will do at Wembley Stadium next Saturday if City beat Stoke in the FA Cup final, it would be easy for City to start getting ahead of themselves.

Mancini insists it will not happen.

"Our focus should be solely on Everton, nothing more," he said. "It is impossible to think about the final or any other games. I know we have reached the FA Cup final, but we still have to play it. We are in fourth place in the league, but we still have another four games left.

"For an entire year, we have worked very hard to reach this stage, but we have to continue because the job is not finished."

It is something that requires a change in form for Mancini, though, who has lost all three meetings with David Moyes's side since he became City's manager in December 2009. "It is always difficult for us against Everton, but we want to change that," Mancini said. "Sometimes in football one team beats another all the time for no obvious reason. Earlier this season, we deserved to win but we still lost. "These records do finish though. We have improved since then and we are ready to fight to prove it."