Mancini confident over City future
Roberto Mancini is not convinced he will be sacked by Manchester City if they fail to finish in the Premier League's top four this season.
Although there have been a number of setbacks along the way, City remain on course to achieve both objectives.
Mancini's men head into the weekend fixtures in fourth, four points ahead of Tottenham, who have a game in hand and are still to visit Eastlands in what looks like a crucial encounter on May 10.
In addition, City have a mouth-watering FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United at Wembley on April 16 ahead of them.
So, despite his enormous £150million outlay on new players, Mancini feels his contract will be honoured.
"It is very important that we reach our targets but I don't know whether my future is dependent on me finishing in the top four," he said.
"I don't think so. I have a three-year contract.
"In any case, we don't want to finish fourth. We want to finish third."
That aspiration took a massive hit when City lost at Chelsea immediately before the international break.
Since then they have lost defensive duo Jerome Boateng and Micah Richards to injury, leaving Mancini in a quandary about who to select at right-back for Sunday's Eastlands showdown with Sunderland as normal choice, Pablo Zabaleta, is visiting his ill father in Argentina.
However, as City's Europa League exit to Dynamo Kiev leaves them to tackle only one game a week for the remainder of the season, Mancini views the current picture as being far healthier than the one his players were slogging through during the depths of winter.
"For two months we played every three days with 14 players," said Mancini.
"That is very hard for every team, not just us."
With just two wins from their last seven Premier League games, the Blues clearly need to turn their form around.
Mancini is adamant they can. And at least in goalkeeper Joe Hart they have a youngster at the very top of his game.
"Joe could become one of the top English keepers in history," said the Blues chief.
"He is young and he is strong.
"Like everyone, he makes mistakes but that is normal when you are young. Maybe sometimes he worries too much when he has the ball.
"But he is getting better with every game.
"Also, you have to remember, this is the first year he played for a club who were competing for the title.
"Last season was the first time he played for a full year in the Premier League, with Birmingham.
"He is already a fantastic keeper and he can still improve a lot."
Sent off against Dynamo Kiev on his last appearance at Eastlands for a studs-first challenge Mancini branded "stupid" at the time, Balotelli has attracted further negativity in the past fortnight following claims he threw a dart at a youth team player.
He was also left out of the Italy squad for last week's Euro 2012 qualifying win over Slovenia and a subsequent friendly against the Ukraine because his behaviour breached the code of ethics laid down by new coach Cesare Prandelli.
None of his should really have come as a surprise to Mancini, since he was Balotelli's coach at Inter Milan.
Yet he still retains faith in the youngster, and still believes Balotelli can become one of the world's best players, even though he accepts behaviour must improve.
"I don't regret bringing Mario here," said Mancini.
"He is a fantastic player. He could be one of the top players in Europe.
"But he is 20. Usually a player's behaviour is not good enough at that age.
"He understands this situation very well. He knows England could be a fantastic experience for him. But his behaviour has to improve.
"I have spoken to him because some of the things that have happened were not good.
"Now everything that Mario does becomes a big story. But he wants to show he can change his behaviour in the last two months of the season. He has assured me of that."