Missing out on fourth not a failure - Mancini
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has denied he would be regarded as a failure if the Blues failed to claim a Champions League spot this season.
When Mancini arrived at Eastlands amid a storm of controversy in December, one of the reasons cited for Mark Hughes' dismissal was the club's owners did not believe they were on course for a top-four slot.
However, with three games of the campaign remaining, City are now sixth and need to win Saturday's clash with Aston Villa to set up a decisive tussle with Tottenham next Wednesday.
On the face of it, Mancini hardly seems to have done any better than Hughes and there has been speculation that if the Italian fails to guide City into fourth spot, another high-profile manager - Jose Mourinho has been mentioned - will be brought in.
However, while Mancini accepts he is not in charge of his own destiny, he does not believe he should be regarded as a failure if results in the next seven days do not go City's way.
"No, I don't think I will have failed," he said. "We want to finish fourth and that is what we are working for.
"But we have improved a lot in the last five months and we must improve more if we want to be a good team. I think the owners can see that."
Mancini also believes he would benefit from having a full pre-season with his players and claimed he expects to be around in the summer to instigate more changes.
"When you work with a team in pre-season it is easier to do your job," he said.
"I imagine I will still be Manchester City manager. I hope so. I have a contract. I don't decide but I think I will be."
Mancini feels confident enough about his future to suggest a number of potential recruits, including Hamburg's Jerome Boateng.
However, he flatly denied also drawing up a list of players he wanted to jettison, including Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
"I never said that," he said. "I have had meetings with the club about players for the future but I never said there were players I did not want."
Meanwhile, Adebayor is struggling to shake off a thigh problem, while former Villa midfielder Gareth Barry is doubtful for the encounter with his former club after picking up a hamstring injury.
Mancini must also decide whether to draft Marton Fulop straight into his starting line-up following his arrival on an emergency loan from Sunderland.
Fulop was signed yesterday after efforts to get Joe Hart back from his loan spell at Birmingham failed.
Hart was City's first choice to replace Shay Given, who dislocated his shoulder at Arsenal on Sunday, but the deal was blocked by the Premier League, leaving Faroe Islands international Gunner Nielsen as the Blues only fit goalkeeper.
It led to consternation at Eastlands, where Blues officials felt they had been the victims of a U-turn by the authorities.
However, Mancini admitted he could understand Birmingham's position.
"It is an emergency for us," said Mancini. "We tried to get Joe but Birmingham said no. I respect that decision.
"We had to get someone because I have no idea when Shay will be back and, apart from Gunner Nielsen, we only had a 15-year-old.
"I will check the players in training and decide who plays on Saturday."