After Arsenal´s shock 2-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Sunday, Manchester City went into last night´s league game against Stoke City knowing victory in the final two games of the season would ensure automatic qualification for the group stages of next season´s Champions League.
The Blues kept the first part of the bargain with a comfortable 3-0 win over Tony Pulis´s team, who succumbed for the second time in four days to a City side that needed to get the job done after the euphoria of Saturday´s FA Cup final victory. A win at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday will put the icing on the cake for Roberto Mancini´s men.
Even so, Mancini is aware the real work starts now, with this summer´s primary objective being to retain the services of Carlos Tevez, who he personally believes will stay at the club despite all indications pointing to the contrary. The Argentine striker last night gave fans a reminder of what they will be missing should he depart, his two superbly struck goals proving what an inspiration he is when he is in the team. If City are to progress to the next level then Tevez must be persuaded that at least his short-term future lies at Eastlands.
It seems the City boss is already making contingency plans in case he loses his skipper, with reports that Udinese winger Alexis S