Belfast Telegraph

Mancini targets Champions League

Roberto Mancini is convinced Manchester City can clinch a place in the Champions League for the first time next season and aims to emphasise that fact on Monday at Anfield.

The Italian's expensively-assembled team face Liverpool on the back of a thumping win against Sunderland on Sunday. The home side may have improved dramatically since fans favourite Kenny Dalglish became caretaker manager but Mancini is anxious for the feelgood factor to continue until May.

"It is not just this week that it is very important, it is the next four or five weeks," said the City boss. "We want to go to Champions League and I am confident we can do so. We want to win as many league games as possible. We also have a chance to go to a final."

City supporters are living the dream at the moment with an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United to follow on Saturday at Wembley.

The Blues are looking to complete the double over Liverpool after winning 3-0 earlier in the season when Roy Hodgson was at the helm. But Mancini knows they cannot afford any mistakes on Merseyside - his side lost to Chelsea the last time they were on the road.

"It will be important to win at Anfield because it would be important for our chances of getting into the Champions League and finishing either second or third in the table.

"But we have to play as well as we did against Sunderland. We have to focus on the game from the start and be aggressive."

Pablo Zabaleta returns to the squad after returning home to Argentina to visit his father, who was seriously injured in a car crash. Gareth Barry, James Milner and Edin Dzeko are all pushing for places in the team after being rested on Sunday.

Winger Shaun Wright-Phillips is also anxious to get a run of games after finding himself on the margins. However, he insists he will give 100% after withdrawing a transfer request earlier in the year.

"I am always desperate to play," he told BBC Radio Manchester. "A new manager has come in and brought in players. He has to play them. I will put my head down and still work hard in training. I would be delighted to help City achieve things."


From Belfast Telegraph