De Jong: City must aim to overtake Arsenal in third

Dutch midfielder insists Roberto Mancini's side have to keep up the pressure to stay in the top four
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong believes the squad should not just settle for Champions League qualification while they can still catch third-placed Arsenal.

Roberto Mancini's side took a huge step towards securing a first appearance in Europe's elite club competition since their debut in the European Cup in the 1968-69 season with victory over Blackburn on Monday. That put them four points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham with Spurs still to go to Eastlands next month.

City are also seeking to end a 35-year wait for a major trophy in the FA Cup final against Stoke but De Jong insists more can still be achieved in the league.

"You have to aim as high as you can and all we can do is focus on each game and keep collecting three points," he said. "We are in the top four and that is where we want to stay and the way to do that is to not think about the future only the next match. If we keep our focus then of course we can challenge for third place but all we can do is keep winning and see what happens."

City great Colin Bell has appealed for fans to stop "degrading" the club by singing songs about the Munich air crash. City's 1-0 win at Ewood Park on Monday was marred by chants about the 1958 tragedy which befell close rivals Manchester United and claimed the lives of 23 people.

The club, who have previously taken out banning orders against supporters caught on camera making aeroplane gestures, are holding a series of behind-the-scenes meetings to determine an appropriate response to Monday night's repeated chants. But Bell believes it is time for the fans themselves to realise enough is enough.

"They are not true City supporters. Football is a sport at the end of the day and they are chanting about people's lives," he said. "It's gone on long enough and I appeal to them to stop. It's sad and I think it is truly out of order. I played for City and now consider myself a supporter of the club and these chants are degrading the club. I don't like it one little bit."

Meanwhile, Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio remains hopeful of making his comeback from injury before the end of the season. The Brazilian sustained a second hamstring problem in the space of six weeks when he was injured in the draw at Arsenal 10 days ago. Because of other injuries to Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger, 17-year-old reserve team full-back Jack Robinson has had to fill in and looks set to play a part until the end of the campaign.

Aurelio, however, is also looking forward to being involved before then. "I'm optimistic I will be able to play again before the end of the season," said the 31-year-old.