City eyes more trophies after winning FA Cup
After finally ending its 35-year wait for a trophy, Manchester City's euphoric players sent out a warning to English football's established powers: This is just the start.
Four days after qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in its history, the world's richest club capped a perfect week by beating Stoke 1-0 in the FA Cup final on Saturday, earning a first trophy since the League Cup in 1976.
Relief as much as jubilation filled Wembley Stadium at the final whistle as the team's success-starved supporters prepared to celebrate long into the night.
But with the bottomless pockets of its owner, the Abu Dhabi billionnaire Sheikh Mansour, behind them, City's players were plotting bigger and better things.
''You could hear some of the guys in the dressing room after the game whispering, 'Yeah, we want more of this,''' City defender Vincent Kompany said. ''We are happy today and the club deserves this. But this is a feeling we want again.
''We've laid down the foundations by this and by qualifying for the Champions League. Now we want to build a house on it.''
Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure sent City's fans into ecstasy by slamming home the winner in the 74th minute, a month after netting the only goal in the semifinal victory over fierce rival Manchester United at the same stadium.
The likes of Toure, who joined from Barcelona for 24 million pounds last summer, Spain winger David Silva and Argentina striker Carlos Tevez were signed to bring trophies to Eastlands and the club's ambitious recruitment since Mansour's takeover in 2008 is really starting to pay dividends.
''It's fantastic and I think this club can only get more strong,'' said Toure. ''I hope we can challenge the big teams like United and Chelsea next season and I think this club has the money to buy big players.''
United's fans have taken pleasure in taunting its rival throughout its barren spell. Indeed, there is a 'ticker' banner in the Stretford End at United's Old Trafford ground, counting the number of years since City won a trophy.
It sat at 35 on Saturday morning. As City manager Roberto Mancini said, with a smile: ''It's time that came down.''
''It's a bit of banter that goes on between us and United,'' said right back Micah Richards, the longest-serving member of the current first team who has been at the club through its transformation from chumps to champs. ''It's nice finally to get a victory and get the feeling of winning something. It's been an inspirational day for everyone at the club.
''We don't want to put pressure on ourselves now. It's always nice to get the first one out of the way. It's just a stepping stone of what we're trying to do. I'm sure we'll go out in the summer and spend a bit more. Get some bigger players.''
A new line of T-shirts has been prepared by City, commemorating the team's FA Cup win. They bear an image of the Old Trafford banner - set to zero.
City's players need no reminder of the heights they must reach to get anywhere United. Minutes before kickoff at Wembley, Alex Ferguson's side drew 1-1 at Blackburn to clinch a record 19th English title, overtaking Liverpool. And on May 28, United travels to Wembley to take on Barcelona, looking to clinch a fourth European Cup.
Ferguson, in taking charge of United in 1986, vowed to knock Liverpool ''off their perch'' and better its rival's trophy haul in the league.
There were no such premonitions by Mancini, just an honest pledge to keep up the team's slow but steady improvement.
''In England, there are three competitions - the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup. We have won the FA Cup and it's an important trophy,'' Mancini said.
''We have to improve but this step was important. When you start to win trophies, everything else comes easier. I'm happy for the supporters. For a long time they didn't win.''