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Roberto Mancini is under pressure in the final six games of the season with City set to miss out on the title, but the Italian deserves another year as the club makes progress

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By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent

When Roberto Mancini guaranteed four weeks ago that Manchester City "will win the title" he was full of bullish optimism, convinced he would guide the club to a first title in 44 years.

But now those assurances are followed by the words "next year" as the Italian insists he is "100 per cent" the man to lead City despite their implosion in the Premier League title race that has left his own future in doubt.

UPWARD CURVE
2008-09 LEAGUE FINISH


1. Man United
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10. Man City
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2009-10 LEAGUE FINISH


1. Chelsea
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5. Man City
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2010-11 LEAGUE FINISH


1. Man United
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3. Man City
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2011-12 AS IT STANDS


1. Man United
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2. Man City
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City’s Abu Dhabi owners are understood to be considering their options regarding Mancini’s future, with the Italian needing a strong finish in the final six games of the season to strengthen his case for a new contract.

Mancini’s current deal, worth £3.5 million-a-year plus bonuses, expires next summer and City’s poor form in the run-in has raised serious questions over his future, with Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho continually mentioned as a potential replacement.

But the City hierarchy - and indeed the supporters - would do well to take a step back and put into perspective the disappointment of missing out on the Premier League title, which looks almost certain with United eight points clear at the top of the table.

Four weeks ago, City were two points ahead of United but have crumbled under the pressure of this squad’s first genuine title challenge. That swing has led to a negativity surrounding the blue half of Manchester, a feeling that they ‘bottled it’ after 28 games as Premier League leaders.

But what right do City have to demand the title after more than four decades? They would be well advised to avoid dealing with this year’s disappointment by making sweeping changes.

The signs of progress in Mancini’s two-and-a-half years in charge are clear and qualifiable.  Yes, he has spent around £240m on the squad, but there is no point in changing the manager for the sake of it.

Last year, Mancini delivered the club’s first trophy in 35 years when they won the FA Cup, while their points tally is already 15 more than last year's total and likely to be the highest in City’s history. Only Manchester United’s stunning form and sky-high expectations have created the sense that this season has been a failure for City.

Of course, they are all but certain to miss out on their target of winning the title, but there is no need to panic and they are on the right track. Mancini has more than played his part in that.

With City now established as a genuine force in both English and European football, next year represents a real chance to deliver the championship demanded by the owners. Building a title-winning side after such a long time without success is not easy, and it is worth remembering that both Chelsea and Blackburn went close the year before clinching Premier League glory.

It is all well and good quoting the money spent since the takeover in 2008, but City are following a careful plan, one they have no need to derail. Mancini has spoken constantly about building a winning mentality at the Etihad Stadium.

The former Inter boss is certainly confident that City will be better placed than ever to win the title next season. "I'm sure that this club has arrived at the top," he said last week. "With two or three more players after this year, this club will start to win, and when it starts to win, it will win two or three titles every year."

On reflection, Mancini may ponder that he has made mistakes this season, in his match-preparation and decisions regarding players, particularly Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez. But what would be the point in changing the manager unless City can get the very best, someone of Mourinho’s stature?

It is clear that City are not going away, that they will be fighting at the top of the table again next year. Mancini will see this season as round one - and he deserves a crack at round two.

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