Mancini tells his side to 'change the club's history' in one game

Roberto Mancini did what he could yesterday to take some of the sting out of what is effectively a Champions League qualifier against Tottenham tonight. "It's one football match, not war," he said. But in the next breath came another assessment which revealed the true meaning of a match on which all the aspirations of Abu Dhabi now depend. "It is a chance to make history," Mancini added. "We want to change the history of the club."

The pressure is arguably more on Tottenham than City, given that this might be a one-off last chance to take a leap into the big league, taking the money that comes with it. City, given their wealth, will be in the Champions League soon enough, perhaps next season.

But of the two managers Mancini, rather than Harry Redknapp, is in the unenviable position. The Italian made a throat-slitting gesture yesterday when discussing the insecurities facing Serie A managers. "In Italy, it's different because if you lose three or four games, you are finished. Sacked," he said. But his own place will only look secure by 10pm tonight if City have emerged with the three points which may still leave them needing a win at West Ham on Sunday to reach their goal.

Mancini is clearly not resting on his laurels where his future next season is concerned. He has still not settled his wife, Federica, and daughter Camilla in Britain. "She can't move now because my daughter is at school; it is difficult," he said. Neither has he met the club's owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, five months after taking over the reins from Mark Hughes.

But his strategy ahead of tonight's fateful encounter was to reduce the temperature, despite the burning morning sun which made the press room uncomfortably warm as he sat down to talk. "I don't think the players have pressure at this moment. I don't have pressure at this moment," he said, reflecting that he has experienced occasions as formidable as this – such as his last game at Internazionale against Parma in 2008 which took them to a Scudetto.

Mancini related the story of his success at Lazio, when he was pushing to secure a Champions League place seven years ago. "We had the same situation with Lazio," he said. "They are not a big team but got fourth position, even though we were competing with Inter, Juve, Milan, Roma and lots of other big teams. So we did a fantastic thing." Lazio beat Brescia to secure the fourth Champions League place ahead of Parma seven years ago and then overcame Benfica 4-1 in a qualifier, only to finish last in Group G and miss out on a Uefa Cup spot after Christmas that year. The City manager's recollections of that time at Lazio were slightly selective though, given that his push for the Champions League the following year saw his side fall short, finishing sixth after winning only two games in six during the run-in.

The big difference between then and now was that Mancini did not have such a lavishly assembled squad in Rome. Their Champions League qualification actually followed the departure of Hernan Crespo and Alessandro Nesta for a total income of €66m (£57m) during a summer in which Lazio spent £55m less than they earned.

Little wonder Mancini has posited the carefully nuanced argument in the last five days that he is operating largely with Mark Hughes' team and not his own. "Mark Hughes worked here for the first five months of the season and worked very well," Mancini said yesterday. "And I think if we get fourth he deserves 50 per cent of the credit. I've worked for five months; he's worked for five months, so the season has been split between us." There is a symmetry about Tottenham being the side on which the future depends. It was City's abject display at White Hart Lane in December which presaged Hughes' dismissal a few days. Victory tonight will enable Mancini to argue that City have developed under his watch.

Mancini, who has Gareth Barry and Wayne Bridge back, believes victory will give him a 70-80 per cent chance of fourth, given that Spurs' visit to Burnley on Sunday looks easier than City's to east London.

Of course, there's nothing to say that City won't perish in August's third qualifying round if they finish fourth – Martin Jol's Ajax, Sampdoria and Zenit St Petersburg are three clubs they might meet there. But by then, City's summer transfer business will have been concluded and the prospect of life in the continent's elite tournament will add vastly to their lustre for those – Fernando Torres included – who may consider joining the club.

And Mancini expects he will be along for the ride too, too, though when asked if fourth place guaranteed he would be at Eastlands next season, he replied with an enigmatic smile. "I don't know about this," he said. "It's not important now. It's important we concentrate on these two games. I work because I enjoy doing this job, I like football, I like it when the squad play very well, when the supporters are happy after we win. But the future? I don't know. I don't know what will happen in the future."

News
Fatale attraction: Brigitte Bardot in her youth
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?