Football Expert & Columnist
Jamie Carragher says missing out on top four would hurt Man City next season
Last Updated: 08/03/17 11:12pm
Jamie Carragher says Manchester City need to worry about finishing in the top four this season - and says failure will seriously hurt their title hopes next year.
The Sky Sports pundit was speaking after watching Pep Guardiola's side draw 0-0 with Stoke City on Wednesday evening, a result which leaves them level with Tottenham, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea and just six clear of fifth-paced Arsenal having played a game more.
Carragher says Manchester City's focus needs to be a top-four finish, as it would seriously damage their hopes of winning the title next year if they end up in the Europa League.
He told Sky Sports: "Even if they'd won tonight they would have closed the gap on Chelsea, but they'd still be closer to challengers behind them for the top four.
"I think top four is still a big worry for City and even Tottenham.
"There's four or five, maybe even six top managers in this league who are going to be criticised if they don't win the league.
"So they want to bounce back next year. The ones who find themselves in the Europa League are going to find it very difficult to mount a title challenge when you're playing Thursday night and Sunday. You know the difficulties that brings with travel time.
"So it's not just getting in the top four, it's trying to then go for the title next season when you're playing Thursday night football."
Manchester City's next game is an FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough on Saturday before they take a 5-3 lead to Monaco in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
And despite Wednesday's disappointment, Carragher says this could still prove to be a "great season" for them.
"They have drawn the game and will be disappointed, but they are on a great run and they can still have a great season," he added.
"They are still in the Champions League, still in the FA Cup and if Pep comes in and finishes second then it's not a bad effort, considering the way Chelsea have performed.
"Chelsea went on a run winning so many games in a row and City and the other teams can't stop that. That's credit to Chelsea.
"If you could finish second in this league when you think of the competition in the top six it's not bad in your first season, also considering Chelsea have no European football.
"I'm sure he's speaking to the owners and the people at the top of the club because there's still changes needed to get Man City where he needs them to be."