Belfast Telegraph

Martin O'Neill not green at cash-rich Manchester City

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will head into battle with Manchester City counterpart Roberto Mancini insisting he is not jealous of the Italian's mammoth spending power.

The 59-year-old Ulsterman will welcome Mancini to the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day hoping to put a further dent in City's Barclays Premier League title ambitions following their 0-0 Boxing Day draw at West Brom.

O'Neill, who had a brief spell as a player at Maine Road, will attempt to prepare his injury-hit side for a backlash from a club whose squad is packed with expensively-acquired, top international players.

However, he has no problem with the cash-rich pretenders to Manchester United's crown flexing their financial muscles.

He said: "It's just part of the game. If you drop back to Chelsea a number of years ago, Chelsea had the spending power behind them and it yielded them the Premier League, they went very, very close in the Champions League a couple of times, and it proved worthwhile.

"Also, they had a fantastic manager in Jose Mourinho at the time, and Carlo Ancelotti carried that on last season.

"But Manchester City have taken it even to another level at the moment, and really, while these are the rules applying to the game, good luck to them."

City currently head their city rivals at the top of the table, but only on goal difference with Manchester United having put together a concerted run to reel them in after their 6-1 derby humiliation at Old Trafford in October.

Asked if they are genuine title contenders, O'Neill said: "Of course, absolutely, and I think they have shown that. They are a really, really top quality side and they have got strength in depth to go with it, which is very, very important these days."

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