Manchester City are stumbling to a second-place finish in the Premier League but, considering the big changes taking place at Manchester United, an FA Cup win on Saturday could inspire them to another title tilt next season.
With David Moyes taking over from the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013/14, there's no better time for the likes of City, Chelsea and Arsenal to strike.
Ferguson wasn't only a great manager - the best - but he was also intimidating for his rivals. With him no longer in the Old Trafford dugout there is a real opportunity for the other big clubs in the country to capitalise.
But to do that the likes of City need to stick together as a team and show some belief in their ability to achieve their goals.
There are so many rumours at City about unrest, players unhappy with the boss and talk of factions in the squad. There are also question marks about Mancini's future - and if they lose the FA Cup final to Wigan there will be a lot of pressure on the Italian.
With Ferguson no longer in the Old Trafford dugout there is a real opportunity for the other big clubs in the country to capitalise.
Quotes of the week
But, if they can unite - and an FA Cup win would no doubt help them to do that - and the board show some consistency and stand by a manager who could potentially deliver the club a third trophy in three seasons on Saturday, then they could become a real force again next season.
Despite a frustrating season I'm not sure getting rid of Mancini would be a good idea anyway. Who would you replace him with?
Someone like Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp is doing really well but we saw when Andre Villas-Boas went to Chelsea that success in other parts of Europe doesn't always mean you'll improve a Premier League side.
Plus, there's a real warmth from City fans towards their current manager. He's the man who brought success to a club which had been in the doldrums for so long and I think he deserves another season at the Etihad.
However, he will have to get significantly more out of his players next season because they have put up a poor title defence and going out in the Champions League group stages simply isn't good enough, given the quality they have in their squad.
Yes, they had Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in their pool, who have since gone on to feature in the final stages, but City should have done better.
They'll be hot favourites to lift the trophy this weekend, though, when they take on relegation-fighting Wigan.
The Latics really messed up this week, losing 3-2 to Swansea. If they'd won that match they could have played a full strength team against City and then rested players against Arsenal, knowing three points at home to Aston Villa on the final day of the season would have been enough to keep them up.
I'm sure that is what Roberto Martinez would have had in mind but now he has to play his best team for the final three games of the season and even a win over Villa - assuming they take nothing from the Emirates - won't guarantee safety.
The Swansea result really has given them a massive problem.It is odd to be discussing a club's league form ahead of a major cup final but, from the club's point of view, it is far more important for them to stay in the Premier League, given the financial implications of relegation - and Martinez will be gutted to have missed out on those vital points on Tuesday.
For the players, though, their focus will be completely on their Wembley showpiece.
There will be a lot of players thinking 'if we go down it doesn't matter, I'll get a move anyway.' I know that; I've been around football too long and anyone who doesn't think that is kidding themselves. Of course if they go down they'll be upset but give them a couple of days and they'll be over it.
But if they win the FA Cup they'll treasure that medal forever. You don't look back on your career and think 'yeah, I remember that year we stayed in the Premier League' - you'll remember the year you won the FA Cup.
I have to side with Man City for this one though - it's theirs to lose. Wigan's defending was shambolic against Swansea and you'd have to expect City, with the talent they have at their disposal, to expose that.
Wigan are struggling with injuries, they have a lot of league pressure on them and I can see City running out 3-1 winners.
Post to your View!
Be the first to post a comment on this story