Man City still likely to flash cash despite setback

LONDON - Mega-rich Manchester City's transfer wish list might have to be altered slightly after missing out on a Champions League spot on Wednesday and the man doing the shopping could change too.

Tottenham Hotspur finally ended the Premier League race for fourth and a qualifying place in Europe's elite competition with a 1-0 win at Eastlands and with it denied City boss Roberto Mancini his sole objective for the season.

NEWS: Spurs secure top-four finish

The blueprint had been for the Italian, appointed in place of Mark Hughes in December, to secure Champions League football and then let City's multi-billionaire Arab owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bankroll an unprecedented transfer bid for the world's top talent.

The latter is still likely to happen but Mancini might not be around long enough to see it.

Speaking to reporters after the Spurs defeat the former Inter Milan boss remained assured of his future: "I think that I will stay here and why not? I've worked for five months and next season we will build a team and we can have something special.

"If we'd got fourth, we did a good job. When you miss fourth by one or two points, we did a good job."


Champions League football would have provided a new platform for City and without it they are a slightly less attractive destination for their top targets.

That is unlikely to deter City's lofty ambitions, however. The absence of European football did not stop them trying to sign Kaka from AC Milan in the last close-season and while the Brazilian playmaker later chose Real Madrid, the reported bid of 110 million euros confirmed City's financial clout.

That spending power was again underlined this season when 32.5-million pounds signing Robinho was allowed to leave for Santos on loan.

City, who have not won a top flight league title since 1968, will now concentrate on bankrolling next season's assault on fourth place or higher with Liverpool a likely casualty.

Up for sale and a squad in need of an overhaul, the five-times European champions from Merseyside are in danger of losing their status among the 'big four' after a dismal campaign which has left them languishing in seventh place.

The blueprint for success is perched at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea had not won a league title since 1955 before Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich arrived to bankroll an influx of some of Europe's finest talent in 2003.

Two years later they were champions and have since been a force in both the league and Europe. Backed by big finances, a key cog in masterminding Chelsea's ascent was an exceptionally talented manager in Jose Mourinho.

With a track record of three Serie A titles with Inter Milan, Mancini does have the credentials. In his five-month tenure they have produced a string of good performances but his cautious tactical approach does not always win admirers.

If City do wield the axe, the club will have no shortage of replacement suitors although Mourinho will not be one of them after ruling himself out of a return to England next season.

"When the sheikh bought the club, he wanted to change its history and the future," Mancini told reporters earlier this week.

The owner may well want to do that sooner rather than later.

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