Roberto Mancini has said he would quit if Manchester City did not win another trophy for three years.
When it was put to him that the Malaga coach, Manuel Pellegrini, had become the latest to be linked with his job, Mancini let out an expletive, albeit with a smile on his face.
"F***ing hell," he said. "I cannot continue to answer questions about this every week and also I don't understand. Why would Manchester City change their manager? For what reasons?"
Although admitting that City's defence of their title would be over if they lost to Chelsea tomorrow, Mancini claimed his relationship with the club's chief executive, Ferran Soriano, and the director of football, Txiki Begiristain, was good.
"I think for every club to have stability is important," he said before preparing to face a Chelsea side that has run through four managers in the three years Mancini has been in charge at the Etihad Stadium.
"If you change the manager every two or three years, it is difficult but, if I didn't win anything for two or three years, I would say to the club: 'I don't want to stay'. After two or three years of not winning I would leave. I couldn't continue to stay here. It would be impossible for my mind to think like this."
Like Paolo di Canio's so far unfulfilled pledge to commit suicide if West Ham were relegated in 2003, that statement is a considerable hostage to fortune and one you could not imagine Arsène Wenger giving. Mancini, however, differs from the Arsenal manager in that he cannot see himself remaining at the same club for a decade.
"I don't think I could stay 10 years, that would be impossible for me," he said. "But I think I could stay for four or five; to try to win the Premier League again and the Champions League.
"It is impossible to think that in two years we could be like United, who built their teams over 20-25 years. This is history. To build a team like United or Barcelona you need five, six, seven, eight years."
Mancini argued that, if City ended the season second, it would be an acceptable return. Before snatching the title in May, City had not finished in the top two since 1977. "Eight months ago we won the Premier League," he said. "Six months ago we won the Community Shield and now we have another two chances. Maybe the Premier League will be difficult but we still have the FA Cup. Hopefully, if we can take second place, it will not be a bad season – like United last year."
One of the results that ensured City would finish ahead of United was the 2-1 win over Chelsea in March, when Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri scored in the final 12 minutes.
Tomorrow, however, Mancini is likely to be without both Vincent Kompany and Gareth Barry. However, he does have the advantage of knowing he is more secure in his job and more popular with the fans than opposite number, Rafael Benitez.