Mancini confident of claiming fourth
Roberto Mancini is confident Manchester City will seal a place in the Champions League if he can partner Emmanuel Adebayor with Carlos Tevez.
For a variety of reasons, Mancini has only been able to pair the two from the start of only three games out of 17 for City during 2010.
Adebayor's ill-fated trip to the African Nations Cup was followed by Tevez's return to South America, where his daughter was born prematurely.
Just as Tevez was about to return, the Togo striker was then sent off at Stoke, earning a four-match ban that he has only just served.
Given the disruption, it is a testament to Mancini's team that they remained in pole position to claim a top four spot until Wednesday's unexpected home defeat by Everton.
Even now they remain masters of their own destiny, given City entertain Tottenham in the second last game of the season, on May 5.
But with Spurs defeating Portsmouth on Saturday to increase their own lead on City to five points, Mancini is aware the margin for error has reduced, which is why he is so glad to have Adebayor back.
"We have missed Emmanuel a lot and his return will give us a major boost for the run-in," said the Italian.
"If we can play with Manu and Carlos for the remaining matches, I think we will be fine."
Mancini could have some disciplinary trouble of his own to deal with after the FA charged him for his touchline conduct in midweek, when he sparked a spat with David Moyes due to his desire to try and get the ball back for a City throw-in.
Moyes has declined to make a meal of the situation, and there appears unanimity amongst the managerial fraternity that Mancini was only showing his passion for the job.
Certainly the City chief is eager to move on in every sense, knowing tomorrow night's encounter with Wigan is far more important.
"We are all fighting for one position and for me it is vital we forget the Everton match and move on - that is how we work," he said.
"When we beat Chelsea we immediately moved on. The same was true of Fulham last week. It's in the past.
"The next game is always the most important."
Mancini could benefit from some inside information on Latics through Adam Johnson's old pal Lee Cattermole, who had 12 months with the club before returning to his native north-east last summer.
Johnson is hoping his time alongside Cattermole at Middlesbrough will prove beneficial, although the winger is not expecting an overly adventurous approach given the success Everton enjoyed with a more rigid formation.
"I will probably have a chat with Lee Cattermole and see if I can get any useful info from him because he had a good spell with Wigan," said Johnson.
"But they could well arrive with a similar game plan to Everton and try and frustrate us.
"It will be up to us to take the game to them, so hopefully I can get on the ball more than I did against Everton when I didn't have my best game."