Mancini expects to win trophy
City head to Fulham on Sunday and a first encounter with Mark Hughes since the Welshman was controversially dismissed by the Blues' owners in December last year. For Mancini it promises to be an ordeal, not least because the statistics surrounding his own tenure are open to criticism. The Italian has gleaned exactly the same number of points from the first 13 games of this campaign as Hughes managed in the last, and the Blues have also lost three times, compared to only once at this point 12 months ago. In fairness to Mancini, there is a significant difference in that the Blues have established themselves in the top four, something they failed to do under Hughes. Yet, for the money that has been spent reinforcing Mancini's squad, it is not that impressive. What would make people sit up is if the Blues were able to end a trophy drought that will have lasted for 35 years by the time they next get an opportunity to win one, and that goes alongside a place in the Champions League next season. Mancini is confident both targets will be achieved. "We are in fourth position, three points behind United but we must check at the end of the season," said Mancini. "At the end of the season I think we will get into the Champions League and probably we will win something. This is my opinion because I believe we have improved a lot." Others may argue otherwise. Certainly Hughes felt his side would have achieved their objectives if they had been given a chance last term. Owner Sheikh Mansour and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak had other ideas, which means Hughes will be fully motivated this weekend, even if Mancini is eager the contest should not become a personal battle. "I don't know if Mark Hughes has a point to prove but Sunday is Fulham against Manchester City, not Mancini against Hughes," he said. "Maybe it means more, I don't know. But I am sure they always try to win, whether they play against Manchester City or Newcastle, who they played last Saturday." Nevertheless, the spectre of Hughes lingers over Mancini's work, not least because he was clearly talking with City before there was actually a vacancy. Not that Mancini defends himself against such accusations. He merely points out the brutal reality of life at the sharp end. "This is our life. A manager's life," he said. "Today you can be here. Tomorrow you can be at another club. "If a manager does not accept this, he doesn't do his job. The world is full of football managers." What the world is not full of are clubs with the financial muscle City have at their disposal. It brings pressure Mancini insists he does not feel, a state due in a large part to his total belief in the work he has done so far. "I am not saying we will achieve things because I want to keep my job. I am saying it because I know my job and I know my squad. "We are fourth now and the best is yet to come. "We beat Liverpool and Chelsea and didn't give them any chances. We didn't give Manchester United any chances. This is very important. "If we don't give our opponents any chances we won't have a problem scoring when everyone is available." Not everyone will be available this weekend though as controversial striker Mario Balotelli serves the final game of a three-match ban. In addition, Mancini has doubts over England duo Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards but he has reported good news over goalkeeper Joe Hart, who was forced to miss the friendly defeat to France after suffering a back spasm in training on Tuesday. "Joe is getting better," said Mancini. "I think he will be available for Sunday."