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Underwhelming bonus payments on offer to players for European glory reflect a new approach from both United and City as they prioritise the Premier League under new managers

SPECIAL REPORT
By Greg Stobart

The Champions League has been something of an obsession for the two Manchester clubs over the last couple of years.  At Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson was desperate to win the competition one last time before his retirement, while Manchester City's Abu Dhabi owners wanted to pursue their stated ambition of European domination. This year however, expectations are significantly lower.

It ended in tears for Ferguson last season with a quarter-final defeat to Real Madrid, with the Scot too distraught to face the media after the game. On the east side of Manchester, Roberto Mancini fell at the first hurdle for the second campaign in a row as City crashed out in the group stage with just three points. It may well have cost the Italian his job.

MAN CITY'S BONUS PACKAGE

PAYMENTS PER PLAYERD
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS
PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
FA CUP WINNERS
€202K
€178K
€95K
This year, though, as United and City prepare to open their European campaigns on Tuesday, expectations are low at both clubs - not just among the supporters but within the respective boardrooms, too.

Indeed, as United entertain Bayer Leverkusen in their Group A opener and City travel Viktoria Plzen in Group D, both managers could be forgiven for having half an eye on Sunday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

The low expectations are reflected in the somewhat underwhelming bonus packages - which are reviewed each summer - on offer to the two squads should they conquer Europe next May.

If United win the Champions League - worth up to €60 million to the club - the players will each be handed a €232,000 bonus, more than the €179,000 on offer if they retain the Premier League title.

City, meanwhile, will also reward their players with €179,000 each for a title triumph and will pay €202,000 a man if they become European champions.

While the figures dwarf the bonus payments for FA Cup victory - €95,000 for United players, €83,000 for City - there certainly is no longer a sense that Europe is a massive priority for either side this season.

MAN UTD'S BONUS PACKAGE

PAYMENTS PER PLAYERD
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS
PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
FA CUP WINNERS
£195K
£150K
£75K
David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini will target qualification for the knockout stages in the Champions League and apply their main focus on challenging for the Premier League title.

Moyes, certainly, has been told to concentrate on the league and the considerable task of following in the footsteps of Ferguson after 26 years of unparalleled success.

A group of Leverkusen, Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk represents a stern challenge for Moyes as he attempts to answer questions over how he will cope the pressure of his first foray into Europe's elite competition.

But the fact that the 50-year-old was hand-picked by Ferguson and awarded a six-year contract indicates the long-term thinking behind Moyes's appointment and the club are well aware that this will be a transitional season.

Moyes picks up €4.8m-a-year at United, significantly less than the £6m-plus annual package earned by Ferguson, while the new boss is on a €892,000 bonus for winning the Champions League.

CHAMPIONS CLUB
45/1 The two Manchester clubs are 45/1 with PaddyPower to meet in the Champions League final
Pellegrini, on the other hand, would cash in on a €1.2m bonus for Champions League glory but has been told to prioritise the domestic campaign, where players are on a €4,200 per point - or €12,500 a win - bonus system.

After being drawn in the 'Group of Champions' a year ago, Pellegrini has an easier task than his predecessor as City look to finish in the top two in a group with Plzen, CSKA Moscow and holders Bayern Munich.

Malaga's march to the quarter-finals last term, where they were unfortunate to suffer last-gasp defeat to Borussia Dortmund, was a major factor in the decision to appoint Pellegrini to replace Mancini over the summer.

Nevertheless, with both Manchester clubs consolidating under new manager and the Premier League fading as European football's powerhouse, the Champions League will be put on the back-burner this season. New eras, new priorities.

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