In the great scheme of things this week has been a very, very good one for Manchester City as the Blue revolution finally starts to gather momentum. An FA Cup final victory and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages within touching distance represents the most successful period in the club´s recent history.
In addition, fans have now been given a glimmer of hope Carlos Tevez will remain at Eastlands next season following Tuesday´s 3-0 victory over Stoke City in which he scored two breathtaking goals. Manager Roberto Mancini revealed afterwards that, despite rumours to the contrary, his skipper has given him his word he intends to stay to lead the team into Europe.“
Scroll down for rest of article
Inter Milan lead the chase in competing for Tevez´s signature, although the player is still thought to be unwilling to make his mind up until he has spoken to his family. Whether or not he concurs with Mancini will become clear before too long and he might still be tempted by a big money move to Italy or Spain. What is certain is that this summer´s buying strategy will be dictated by the Argentinean´s decision, particularly since chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak said this week there would be just two signings before the start of next season. Al- Mubarak stressed last summer´s buying spree will not be repeated and instead feels the squad merely requires strengthening in certain areas, as it now possesses more quality rather than quantity.
Another factor the chairman has taken into account is UEFA´s Financial Fair Play Regulations, which aim to persuade clubs to balance their books over a period covering 4-6 transfer windows, with 2012 and 2013 the first financial years to be assessed. Although the rules do not prevent clubs spending money on transfers during the season they will be required to break even at the end of it, so any players brought in now will have an impact on next year´s financial results.
However, all thoughts now turn to Sunday´s vital clash at Bolton Wanderers, where the Blues will be hoping to cement an automatic place at European football´s top table if they can finish above Arsenal. Owen Coyle´s men suffered their fourth successive defeat with a 4-3 loss at Blackpool last weekend, yet the Reebok Stadium is a ground where City have traditionally struggled. The last time the Blues tasted victory there was back in December, 2004 when Joey Barton was on target in a 1-0 victory, although Roberto Mancini is yet to taste defeat against the Trotters.
A third-place finish and avoiding the Champions League qualifying rounds will round off a more than satisfactory season under Mancini, who must now believe his team really is a work in progress.