One trophy can take us to greatness: Roberto Mancini
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini wants to build a dynasty to match the trophy-gathering machine Sir Alex Ferguson has created at Manchester United.
Despite an air of negativity around City, the Blues head into today's eagerly-anticipated FA Cup semi-final, still on track to match pre-season expectations.
Mancini is confident about securing the top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League demanded by owner Sheikh Mansour, while an end to that 35-year trophy drought is still in reach.
The fact United stand in their way merely works as a useful tool for Mancini to point out his overall aims for the Eastlands outfit.
“I have respect for Manchester United because they have won everything for many years,” said the Italian.
“To begin with, they won a single trophy after a long time with nothing. Now we are in the same position. We can go on to do what United have done. We have a chance tomorrow and for this we should be happy.”
The comparison is not exact. When Mark Robins inspired United to the FA Cup triumph in 1990 that saved Ferguson's job and gave him the time to create the monolith United have gone on to become, he did so just five years after their last trophy under Ron Atkinson.
A 26-year title famine was not brought to an end for another three years, which, give or take a decade, generated the same sense of failure City have had to cope with.
“It took Ferguson seven years to win the league,” he said. “Today is very different from 25 years ago.
“If you are a manager who wins nothing for six or seven years, it is difficult.”
Even when the gap between Manchester's warring factions was at its greatest, City were still capable of causing a shock, which is why no one in red is taking anything for granted.
United denied City in last season's Carling Cup semi-final and now they are intent on doing it again. Their odds of succeeding have increased now that Carlos Tevez must sit out the game through injury.
Ferguson knows how significant that first trophy can be.
“I can remember that first trophy,” he said. “It was a big moment for us. Winning the first trophy at
any level is always important. I experienced it at Aberdeen and St Mirren and also with United.
“I don't know if City are obsessed with it. I can't judge that at all. But it is obvious with the money that has been invested, they have big plans.”
However, as Mancini knows and older United fans can recall, big plans and a fair amount of cash do not automatically translate into silverware.
“The first trophy is the hardest one to win,” said the City chief.
“It doesn't depend on the money you spend. But it is important to win a title.”