Mancini already plotting bigger things

MANCHESTER - Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini barely paused to reflect on achieving this year's goal of a Premier League top-four finish on Tuesday before outlining plans to take Europe by storm.

A 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur enabled his team to fulfil their pre-season aim of guaranteeing at least a Champions League qualifying spot. With two games to play they could still finish higher to enter the group stage directly.

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While City fans jumped around celebrating their biggest achievement for several decades, and the players lingered on the pitch hugging each other as if they had won the league, Mancini was already dreaming of bigger things.

"When I arrived here I said that Manchester City in two to three years will probably become one of the top teams in Europe. I think Manchester City has everything to do this," the Italian told a news conference.

"It's the first time. We got here because the players really wanted to play in the Champions League because we have players who deserve to play in the Champions League."

An already satisfying season could get even better on Saturday when Mancini takes his expensively assembled team to Wembley for the FA Cup final against Stoke City, where they will be seeking their first major trophy for 35 years.


They could have even more prestigious silverware on their minds afterwards with Spurs manager Harry Redknapp predicting a further spending spree by City's billionaire owners.

"It seems to me they can go as far as they want to go, the sky is the limit," said Redknapp, who had the tables turned on him on Tuesday after his side won this fixture last year to qualify for Europe's elite competition at City's expense.

"They've got an owner who can spend anything he wants to spend... so they can go out and buy another four or five world class players in the summer and try to win the Champions League next year. It wouldn't be beyond them would it?"

Since being taken over by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi in 2008, the world's richest club have spent more than 300 million pounds building a team.

Redknapp added he did not think his Tottenham side were any worse than City's despite the big spending but that cracking the coveted top four again after tasting the Champions League for the first time this season would be challenging.

"It's difficult to get in the top four. Man United are never going to drop out are they, so there are three places. Chelsea are never going to drop out, so there's two places. Arsenal have never been out, so then there's one place," he said.

"Man City have got billions to spend, Liverpool are getting better, Tottenham's a good team. It's difficult."