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mancini to get city war chest

KHALDOON al-Mubarak vowed to give Roberto Mancini "all the tools he needs" to turn Manchester City into title contenders next season, moving to end speculation about the manager's future.

The City chairman expressed confidence that Mancini would be the manager "for many years" after dismissing fears that the Italian could be sacked after failing to lead the club into the Champions League.

City's 1-0 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday ended their hopes of finishing fourth, and even if they beat West Ham United at Upton Park in their final game of the season on Sunday, the club will still fall short of the 70-point target stipulated by the owners.

But al-Mubarak insisted that Mancini has the unequivocal backing of Sheikh Mansour, the club's billionaire owner, and would be given the finances to embark on a significant spending spree over the summer.

"Roberto is our manager, I think he has done an excellent job coming in mid-season, organising the team," al-Mubarak said in an interview with the club's official website.

"I'm very happy. Sheikh Mansour is delighted with the way he has organised the team and I believe with a good pre-season now to prepare for next season Roberto is going to do a wonderful job for us for many years.

"I have the highest regard and respect for Roberto as a person, manager and human being. He is a man who is driven, committed and has a winning mentality. He wants to do things and achieve things for this club and has the interests of the club at heart.

"We believe he is definitely the right manager for this club for many years so I think what he needs this summer is time to prepare and really organise ourselves.

"We know the areas that need to be improved within the club. I'm really excited for next year. Already we are looking to start moving into second gear for our preparations for next year.

"We have to move on and focus on the future and give our manager all the tools he needs in order to be well prepared for next season."

Al-Mubarak held a meeting with Mancini, City chief executive Garry Cook and other senior members of the management staff yesterday, which involved further discussions about the club's summer transfer plans.

The number of signings City make is likely to be tied, in part, to how many players leave, with as many as a dozen departures expected, although the club hope to have made serious headway on several targets before the start of the World Cup finals in South Africa next month.

An £11m deal for Jerome Boateng, the Hamburg defender, is in place while moves are afoot to sign Werder Bremen midfielder Mesut Ozil, and Leonardo Bonucci, the Bari defender.

City could also bid for Aston Villa midfielder James Milner while their failure to qualify for the Champions League is unlikely to prevent them from bidding for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, or Benfica winger Angel Di Maria.

Al-Mubarak said they were "disappointed" not to finish fourth but that a fifth-place finish would be a "major jump, a major achievement" from coming tenth last season and that the club had "crossed an important milestone".

The City chairman did not set Mancini a specific target for next season, but it was clear he expects to the club to make a sustained challenge for the Premier League title. He also reiterated his commitment to investing in youth and the club's infrastructure.

"I don't think you can win the league without building a mindset, a winning mentality, and that is what has happened this year," he said. "We are going to come back very strong. Next year is going to be a very important year for us.

"The teams in the league take us seriously now. I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that Manchester City are a real force to be reckoned with and the acceleration of that investment (last summer) has really put us in that position maybe a year earlier.

"With that in mind this gives us a much better position this summer to work from.

"We can't allow ourselves to sulk. Everybody would have liked to maybe win the league. But you are not going to get from point A to point Z in one go, it's not going to happen. Building a championship team takes time. That is a reality."

© The Times, London