Mancini confident ahead of semi-final

Roberto Mancini is convinced Manchester City will be celebrating a place in the Carling Cup final next week if they reach their peak in the two-legged last-four duel with Manchester United.

Although United go into the most eagerly-awaited derby in years in winning form, while City lost at Everton on Saturday, momentum appears to be with the Blues.

Roque Santa Cruz's calf injury might have robbed Mancini of a main target man for a month and Patrick Vieira is still sidelined by a similar problem but, in former Red Devil Carlos Tevez, City have a striker on a hot streak.

And with Shaun Wright-Phillips fit and Stephen Ireland on the bench, Mancini is confident his side have all the tools they need.

"We are meeting a big team but if we play well, I think we will go to the final," he said.

"We have two games and it is important that we play with concentration."

Mancini has previously spoken of his desire to banish the banner at Old Trafford which serves as a reminder of City's lack of silverware in recent years - their trophy drought stretches back to the 1976 League Cup final win over Newcastle - and the Italian clearly likes the idea of picking up a cup in his first couple of months as a manager in England.

However, he is also a pragmatist and if the harsh manner of Mark Hughes' dismissal taught him anything, it is probably that unless City make the Champions League spots this term - as demanded by owner Sheikh Mansour - he is likely to be out of the door whether he has won the Blues a trophy or not.

"We want to win the Carling or FA Cup, but we must finish in the top four," he said, before adding: "Yes", when asked if that was the priority.

The comments place the harsh reality of modern-day football into sharp focus.

It is a view not likely to be shared in the stands by fans who have suffered so much since their trophy cabinet began collecting dust.

However, to silence any disquiet, Mancini applied an addition; a trophy could prove to be the catalyst for that top-four berth.

He said: "I am new in Manchester City, so the trophy is important to me. But the same is true for the players and the club because when you start to win trophies, you change your mentality.

"We want the Carling Cup. But it must only be the start."

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