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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
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

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn