Paul Parker

City’s Ferrari stuck in first gear

Paul Parker

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Roberto Mancini says he has upgraded from a Fiat to a Ferrari ahead of this season's Champions League, but I'm not sure where he thinks the extra horsepower has come from.

I don't feel he has done enough to improve his squad this summer, and I would be surprised if City qualified from the group.

Yes, they spent £50 million in the summer, but I'm not sure Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Matija Nastasic are the sort of players to turn them into genuine contenders.

I don't think I have ever seen a group as hard as City's - it features the champions of four major football nations, with Real Madrid, Dortmund and Ajax joining them.

Although they have lost Shinji Kagawa, Dortmund are a superb side who have got the better of Bayern Munich domestically, and I would be surprised if they do not join Real in the last sixteen.

City might have won the Premier League, but the Champions League is a different discipline and it takes some getting used to. They were naive last season and got exploited by Bayern and Napoli.

They need to learn from that experience and show a bit more savvy - something that only comes with time in Europe.

Chelsea showed that last season. Although they were not a great side by any stretch of the imagination, they had enough experience - and luck - to go all the way.

Looking at tonight's game for City in the Bernabeu, I think we know Mancini will be looking to the negative side and going for a point.

He will set up not to lose, and I would expect to see the likes of James Milner feature prominently.

A draw wouldn't be a bad result for them, in fairness to Mancini. Ten points are customarily enough to qualify, and City will look to get six against Ajax, so a draw in Madrid would be OK.

It is certainly a fixture with plenty of spice, especially as Mancini and Jose Mourinho have their Inter Milan connection.

Things have not gone well for Real this season, and they lost again at the weekend.

Mourinho seems to be losing patience with his players, and he still has to deal with the sulking Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, I think a big European game between the champions of Spain and England will appeal to the Real egos and get the best out of them.

Mancini said that Ronaldo should go on a six-month holiday like Carlos Tevez did last season.

While he was trying to be light-hearted, I think he is on dodgy ground joking about the fiasco that very nearly destroyed City's chances of silverware.

Put it this way: if Tevez had shown that sort of disrespect to Mourinho, he wouldn't be a City player any more. By welcoming Tevez back and making light of the situation, he is opening the door for further indiscipline from the City ranks.

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