Saturday, 30 January 2010

Man City aim for friendlier rivalry with United

Manchester City's Arab owners want to co-exist with Manchester United in a spirit of rivalry mirroring Milan and Internazionale's, with new manager Roberto Mancini so confident of his future beyond this summer, that he is seeking to buy a property in the city.

Mancini has been assured that his job is not dependent on reaching the 70-point target which predecessor Mark Hughes agreed to at a board meeting last August and the Arabs' impressions of the Italian five weeks into his Eastlands career are – results aside – that he is more willing to communicate directly with them and keener to take on the more sizeable backroom staff befitting a club with City's aspirations.

Mancini was manager of Inter and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyanbin Zayed Al Nahyan's representatives are particularly taken with the footballing environment he left behind in Milan. They want to redefine their aspiration as one of perpetual rivalry with United, rather than one necessarily built on seeking permanently to topple the Premier League champions to become the "No 1" side in the city. Abu Dhabi hosts the Fifa Club World Cup for a second successive year and the Arabs are understood to be excited by the idea of United being in the Emiracy to compete for the trophy.

The notion of co-existence did not entirely fit with the words of chief executive Garry Cook at the Mad Hatter in New York, though the Arabs' sense is that Cook was left exposed when he was being partisan at a City-supporting bar. Consideration is being given to whether more staff are needed to prevent a repeat of the outcome in which Cook's speech was secretly recorded, though his determination to be at the grass roots may simply mean he has to be more circumspect.

City retain hopes of securing the £5m signature of England Under-21 winger Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough, despite Boro manager Gordon Strachan's reluctance. The pursuit of Roma central defender Marco Motta is not over either, though developments in Italy saw the deal stall earlier this week.

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