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Mancini urges City to keep focus on fourth place

Manchester City have not won a Premier League away game since St Stephen's Day.

But if they can end that run at Blackburn Rovers tonight, the reward will be some breathing space in their quest for a fourth-place finish and the accompanying promise of a place in the Champions League.

Their last game away from Eastlands may have been the Wembley triumph over Manchester United, but manager Roberto Mancini yesterday chose to remind his players instead of their previous League game, a dire 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, in an attempt to keep their feet on the ground.

The message of "forget Wembley" is a mantra repeated across the squad, especially as it is the Champions League the club's Abu Dhabi owners crave more than most.

And Mancini has been warned that City will embark on their smallest summer spending spree since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan's September 2008 takeover if the club fail to qualify for the Champions League.

With the anticipated departures of Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Roque Santa Cruz and Jo likely to raise more than £70m this summer, City will still be able to generate a substantial transfer fund from selling players.

But without the financial rewards of Champions League participation, which could generate more than pounds £40m in new income, City risk falling foul of UEFAs Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations if they rely on Sheikh Mansour's personal wealth to bankroll another huge transfer outlay.

UEFA is to allow clubs to register losses up to a total of almost £40m over three years from 2011 in preparation for FFP, but City's accounts, which revealed a loss of £121m for the year ending May 31, 2010, demonstrate the problems arising from failure to qualify for the Champions League.

For a side that has struggled for goals all season, the absence of Carlos Tevez may be felt more than ever in the run-in.

Much will rest on the shoulders of strikers Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.

"The most important thing is that Edin continues to work hard," added Mancini. "If he does that I'm sure the goals will start flowing for him again."

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Irish Independent