Roberto Mancini yesterday indicated that he is seeking to make significant advances into the transfer market when Manchester City's pursuit of the FA Cup and a Premier League third place are concluded, with his conviction that "maybe it will be easier to sign top players" this summer one that may test the club's resolve to meet Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules.
Players have refused to sign for City in the past because of the lack of elite European football and Mancini, who said he may make Carlos Tevez sweat on a Wembley starting place until tomorrow morning, believes things will be different after the club clinched fourth spot on Tuesday. "In the past year we have bought important players and next season we will play in the Champions League," the City manager said. "It will probably make a difference [in terms of type of players we can sign]. Maybe it will be easier to sign top players, because every player wants to play in the Champions League."
The City board will not sanction moves for Udinese forward Alexis Sanchez and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani if the price is not right and the days of the £30m acquisition being a part of the summer routine are in the past – especially if the City players currently out on loan cannot be sold permanently.
Mancini, who has a full squad to chose from with Pablo Zabaleta suffering no after-effects of a strike on the nose from Tottenham's Peter Crouch, said it was "probably not good to play the FA Cup final [on the same] day as other games" – a situation which could see Manchester United secure the title at Blackburn just as City walk out at Wembley – but was willing to accept the reason. "In this case they play the Champions League final 14 days later, so this is the reason," he added.
It is, he said "time City won a trophy." Though there is no doubt that the manager's prime objective is secured – "I think we have done a piece of history already by getting into the Champions League," he declared – removing the millstone created by 35 barren years without a major trophy would make him a Manchester folk hero.
But Mancini – who may start with David Silva, Yaya Touré and Mario Balotelli in a line of three behind Tevez, said defeating Stoke City would be an even greater task than getting past Manchester United in the semi-final. "The players are used to playing at Wembley because four or five play in the national team," he said. "It was important to beat United but on Saturday it will be even harder than against United. Stoke are a very difficult team to play against. If we want to win on Saturday, we have to play very well. We can't concede anything. We must be aware of everything, for every situation. I think it will be very, very hard. I think the fans are happy. But we want to win this trophy for them. We will do everything for them. But we know it will be hard, because in a final anything can happen."