By Greg Stobart
If Roberto Mancini asked Manchester City for a show of faith, he certainly got it in the five-year contract announced by the club on Monday.
City have made Mancini the highest paid manager in England on a salary reportedly worth €9.46 million- (£7.5m)-a-year, and in the process the Abu Dhabi owners have nominated the Italian as the man to lead the club’s charge for global domination.
Mancini's future was uncertain as recently as April, when a poor run of form saw City fall behind rivals Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League. The 47-year-old, however, managed to turn the tide to steer City to an historic first title since 1968.
That was just the start, the platform from which to build a dynasty in east Manchester.
Reports of an approach from the Russian FA may have strengthened Mancini's negotiating hand with the City hierarchy, but there was never any chance that he would walk away from such an ambitious project.
Sheikh Mansour has already spent £1 billion on City, and he wants more return than one Premier League title, as glorious as that title triumph was for supporters who waited 44 years, most of them in the shadow of their bitter rivals.
The fact that it took four years of eye-watering investment to win the title shows that success takes time in modern football, but City want to build an empire, to create a history to challenge that of United.
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The next target for City is the Champions League, where they floundered at the group stage this season. As the best team in the self-proclaimed best league in the world, they will fancy their chances of pushing for European honours in the next two years.
They face enough of a challenge domestically to fend off the likes of United, while Chelsea and Arsenal will surely improve.
But the core of the squad is in place, with a substitutes bench most weeks that would be the envy of Europe, and a young core of top class players such as Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli.
Mancini is a fiery, demanding character and has not always had the best of relationships with some senior City officials, especially football administration officer Brian Marwood.
But those within the club recognise that Mancini's irascible nature is all part of the winning mentality that he has developed within the squad, brought to a club known as the kings of shooting themselves in the foot. Joe Royle, their former manager, called it 'Cityitis'.
Mancini is impatient. He cares little for financial fair play - a major consideration within the Etihad Stadium this summer after losses of €249m (£197m) in their last accounts - and is frustrated that the club is not pushing through with a move for Arsenal captain Robin van Persie.
The truth is that the likes of Edin Dzeko and Emmanuel Adebayor need to depart before City can make a move for van Persie - last season's double player of the year - who they are ready to pay €248,000- (£198,000)-a-week.
The major disappointment for City last season was their failure in the Champions League, where they failed to progress out of a difficult group that included Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal.
The coming season will require both the players and Mancini to draw on the club's debut season in Europe's elite competition, but they have the squad to genuinely challenge for Champions League glory.
They also have the manager. And he has left plenty of room in his trophy cabinet for the next five years.
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