Roberto Mancini said yesterday he would like to remain at Manchester City for at least another four years to mould a club that can compete as one of the best in the world.
The City manager denied reports he had already begun negotiations over a new contract, pointing out he had another 20 months remaining on the one he signed in December 2009.
Mancini has always suggested he would at some time return to Italy to continue a managerial career in Serie A that has already taken in Lazio and Internazionale. However, Italy, where domestic successes were marred by three relatively unsuccessful Champions League campaigns, remains on the distant horizon.
"I started work here two years ago and I have worked hard to create a good team," he said. "I would like to stay here another three or four years because Manchester City is one of the best teams in the world. My contract is not important to me. I am happy and have not talked to the club about a new one. I would like to stay here but in football things can change every week, if you lose two or three games, but for now my gut feeling is good."
Mancini appears completely secure in his post. Having qualified City for the Champions League and won the FA Cup in his first full season, he is ahead of the schedule set by Abu Dhabi United when he replaced Mark Hughes and he appears to have come through the first big test of his player management remarkably unscathed. Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor have been removed bloodlessly from City's ranks and both the board and the City fan base have backed him unequivocally over his handling of the Carlos Tevez affair.
Saturday's 4-1 victory over Aston Villa was the first home game since Mancini's announcement that the club's former captain would never play for him again, following his alleged refusal to play against Bayern Munich. Mancini's name was chanted throughout the match – and even more vociferously when the final whistle left City top of the Premier League.
Mancini politely declined to answer questions on Tevez yesterday, although the striker's disciplinary process is likely to take a further step forward tomorrow, when it is considered formally by a panel made up of leading members of the City board. However, whatever conclusions are reached, it is unlikely to mark the end of the process. Tevez has indicated that, if found guilty, he will use all avenues open to him to appeal against the decision, whether that is to the club or the Premier League.
That could eat up another six weeks of the season, making any potential loan arrangement with West Ham United unfeasible, even if City were minded to accept the offer from Tevez's former club.