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Cup is not enough for City

Would winning the FA Cup be enough to save Roberto Mancini's job if Manchester City failed to qualify for the Champions League next season?

Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini reacts during their FA Cup semi-final soccer match against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, April 16, 2011.  REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)    Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2011-04-16T163921Z_1888388388_GM1E74H01XG01_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-CUP.JPG
Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini reacts during their FA Cup semi-final soccer match against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, April 16, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2011-04-16T163921Z_1888388388_GM1E74H01XG01_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-CUP.JPG

Would winning the FA Cup be enough to save Roberto Mancini's job if Manchester City failed to qualify for the Champions League next season?

I doubt it. Finishing outside the top four in the league is not an option for City.

City's fans may see it differently, but their season will be defined by where they finish in the league. The real currency is not in FA Cups, but league titles and European Cups.

City are desperate to be in the Champions League next season and with good reason. Everything at the club is geared towards getting into that competition partly because the Champions League is, without exception, the competition that all the top players want to be in.

Ask Liverpool's Steven Gerrard if he has enjoyed not playing in the Champions League this season. He will have been mortified by the situation.

Ask Fernando Torres why he wanted to leave Liverpool. The lack of Champions League football will be the main reason.

The Europa League may be a European competition, but it is often rated a joke competition by top players with too many games played in half empty stadiums on a Thursday night.

You saw how leggy Manchester United looked against City in the second half on Saturday after two very hard Champions League games against Chelsea. Champions League football takes a lot out of you.

The extra games and travel can exhaust you. Europa League football can take even more out of you and that would damage City's league plans next year.

I live in Manchester and know a lot of City fans. My son plays for City and I'm often at the club where I'm treated well as a former player, despite being more associated with United.

I'm sure the relief of winning a first trophy in 35 years will be enough for City fans, especially as they beat United on the way to Wembley.

Some have asked me whether the win over United could be the catalyst for a glorious City future. I'm not convinced that it will be as I'm not convinced about City under Mancini.

I've watched them a lot this season. With their resources they should be doing far better against the bigger teams in the league and they should also playing more attractive football.

They have flair players like Adam Johnson who cannot express themselves and are ticked off for neglecting defensive duties.

Did you see James Milner shaking his head at the manager when he was substituted at Liverpool last week?

Then there are the expensive forwards, such as Edin Dzeko, who seldom play.

Carlos Tevez is the main man, but he plays alone up front by himself. It will be a big boost for City having him back for the FA Cup final.

City are progressing, but I can't see them going anywhere in the Champions League if they actually qualify for it. And that's another problem.

Maybe I'll be proved wrong. Mancini has experience managing in the competition but City seem too rigid and defence minded.

I'm convinced that they would be taken apart by Barcelona or Real Madrid if they don't change how they play.

There are bright spots and City have some outstanding players. David Silva can unlock defences from the most negative of formations and while Yaya Toure carries a bit of weight, he's had an excellent season and scored the winning goal against United at Wembley.

That may well be remembered as the highlight of the season for most City fans, a highlight of the last decade even, but I believe that they should have made more progress given the resources spent at the club. I think City could find next season even tougher than this.

Chelsea feel they have a point to prove after being written off this term.

Players like John Terry and Frank Lampard have been written off by some, Torres too.

I don't believe any of it. They will come back stronger, make no mistake.

United are going to buy another two or three players because they will want to keep their title.

Arsene Wenger needs to start producing results at Arsenal, while a much improved Tottenham Hotspur pipped City to the Champions League last season.

Will they do the same this year? After what happened last year their players certainly think so.

 

Andrew Cole's column is written with the assistance of European football correspondent Andy Mitten

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