De Jong: Top four is main focus

A place in the FA Cup final – and a chance of securing their first

major trophy in 35 years – has been secured on May 14 following the

victory against Manchester United at Wembley. City are also in

contention for a top-four finish and a spot in the Champions League

for the first time. Next up are struggling Blackburn on Monday at

Ewood Park and De Jong said: “Our main goal is to finish in the

Champions League. “That game against United gave us a big

confidence boost towards the next league game. It was a big

statement and we have to maintain our focus. “We have got better

against United in the last year and a half. It is great, isn’t it?”

City strengthened the squad in the summer thanks to the financial

muscle of owner Sheikh Mansour and De Jong is not surprised they

have had their ups and downs. “We have come quite far as a team, ”

he said. “As people say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. “A lot of new

players have come into in the squad, a lot of new cultures. It

takes time but you can see towards the end of the season everything

is fitting perfectly. “The spirit has never been away and will

never go away. Everyone is fighting for each other. You have bad

periods and good periods and this is a good period for us.” Manager

Roberto Mancini, normally so reserved, wildly embraced the players

at the end of the Wembley showdown which set up a meeting with

Stoke next month. De Jong smiled and said: “It was normal. If you

reach the final you all bond, including the manager. “Everyone was

happy not just him but the staff and the players. But we knew we

could not celebrate too much as we have the final to come. Then we

can go crazy if we win.” Italian striker Mario Balotelli looks set

to retain his place ahead of Edin Dzeko as Carlos Tevez has a

hamstring injury. With defender Micah Richards also absent with a

similar problem, Pablo Zabaleta is set to stay in the team

following the Wembley triumph. Mancini wants an action replay of

the United game and added: “If we have the same situation we will

win a lot of matches. “That is important because we lost many

points in the last month. We cannot think of the final now.”