Manchester City will have to be more successful this season than they were last, that is if Roberto Mancini wishes to retain his job. Although fifth place was the club’s highest finish in the Premier League yet, there was a sense of disappointment around Eastlands as they failed to grab a Champions League place. Sheikh Mansour and his cohorts invested a lot of money in the club last season, under the proviso that they would get into the Champions League and would thus be able to attract the world’s best players as Chelsea had done when Roman Abramovich took over. Had Mancini been City’s manager at the start of the season, he would undoubtedly have been fired. But having already gotten rid of Mark Hughes, the Man City heirarchy would have risked their reputation had they sacked two managers in one season. This year however, Roberto Mancini starts the season as manager, and he will take ultimate responsibility for the club’s fortunes. If he does not bring success to Manchester City after a huge summer spending spree, there will be nowhere to hide for the Italian and he will not last if he is not successful. But what exactly will the Man City owners, and fans expect of their club this season?
Fundamentally, what Manchester City desire is Champions League football. This will be seen by the club’s owners as a minimum requirement this season. The fans will have more patience, but given the amount of quality players Mancini has at his disposal they will be expectant too. There is an outside chance of Man City challenging for the Premier League title this season, but it is a lack of Champions League football that is currently holding them back from mounting a serious challenge. Being in the Champions League brings kudos and money into a club, and it is also a major attraction for possible transfer targets. When a club starts playing Champions League football, the calibre of players it can attract is greatly increased, until then Manchester City will find it difficult to be regarded as one of the top European sides, and as a result will find it hard to sign the very top names. Who knows how the Kaka deal may have panned out had Man City been playing Champions League football. This makes a place in the top four absolutely necessary if Man City are to progress and become a major force in English football, and the owners will be more than aware of this fact.
Having not tasted any silverware for many years, Manchester City supporters will also be keen for the club to end their long trophy drought. City have not won a major honour since their League Cup triumph in 1976, 34 years ago. If Roberto Mancini and his players really want to endear themselves to the fans, then picking up a trophy would go a long way towards doing this. Winning the league title is unlikely, but Man City are more than capable of winning the FA Cup or the Carling Cup. In fact I am making them my early prediction to lift the Carling Cup this season. Although it is not the most important of competitions, victory in either this or he FA Cup would give the club a massive boost, and could play a big part in pushing them on to greater things. This season for Manchester City, the minimum requirement is Champions League football, and this will be their primary goal; if Mancini could win a cup tournament along the way, he would be firmly embedded in City hearts.