Roberto Mancini last night insisted he did not have a "magic wand" to transform Manchester City instantly into an elite side but maintained he would remain in employment to shape their development, despite the £20m goal from Peter Crouch which has seen Tottenham beat them to Champions League qualification.
Spurs's 1-0 win, which sees them among the continent's elite just 16 months after they propped up the Premier League table early into Harry Redknapp's reign, had Redknapp reflecting last night that this is an achievement even greater than winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008. But it brings despair to City, whose £223m net spend on transfers since their Arab owners took over in September 2008 makes Spurs' £76m net spend over three years pale by comparison.
Mancini was undaunted though, despite the glaring defensive weakness in his side and his players' failure to raise themselves for the game as Redknapp's attack-minded team had done. "You don't start from the roof but the basement," he declared. "We work very well and we are near the roof. I am not a magician. I don't have a magic wand. We wanted this [fourth] place and we tried like Liverpool, Tottenham Aston Villa. This is football. We did a good job."
It would serve Mancini if his club move to affirm his employment for next season – if they have, indeed, decided he is to continue. Asked if he would retain his job, Mancini replied: "Why not? I work four or five months." He did not contest the assertion that there are weakness in the team, nor that it would be harder to buy elite players – Mancini covets Fernando Torres – now that City are limited to the Europa League. "I don't know. It is impossible to say now," he said. "I think that we can improve our team, We can buy some players. I don't know how many."
Redknapp's chairman Daniel Levy, meanwhile, has Arsenal's third place in his sights. "The chairman has just asked me who Arsenal have got on Sunday. They've got Fulham. I think he wants to see if we can finish above them," said Redknapp, who arrived for his press conference dripping with the water thrown over him by his players. Fulham may conceivably field a weakened side on Sunday, with the Europa League final three days later.
Redknapp expressed delight that a club with less wealth like his own had made the Champions League – the first time Spurs have made the elite European competition since 1962. "The usual four and Man City were the only teams I could see breaking in," said Redknapp, whose side have hit the 70-point target City's Abu Dhabi owners set Mancini's predecessor Mark Hughes pre-season.
"The FA Cup you can win with some lucky draws. You all know that you can get some nice draws, three or four wins and you are there," said Redknapp, declaring fourth place to be the greater achievement. City's Gareth Barry, who limped off with an ankle injury seven minutes into the second half, is not thought to be a doubt for England's World Cup build-up .
Earning their Spurs
Now Spurs have reached the Champions League qualifiers, they are looking at the following potential earnings:
£3.1m Value of playing in the qualifying play-off alone, through prize-money. (£1.8m), gate receipts (£950k) and sponsorship bonuses (£350k).
£3.3m Money received for reaching group stage where a club should then earn around £20m.
£1.2m Total prize-money for winning each game in the group stage. Reduced to £819k for draw and £474k for defeat.
£26.9m Total prize-money available for winning the Champions League and all games up to the final.
£70m Club's total revenue for winning Champions League, including TV income.
£15,000 Estimated bonus for each regular player in the Tottenham squad.
£500,000 Figure Harry Redknapp will receive for reaching Champions League.