Top-four finish a priority for Mancini

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Roberto Mancini has admitted a top-four finish is more important for Manchester City this season than winning the Carling Cup.

City entertain neighbours Manchester United in the first leg of England's secondary cup competition on Tuesday, with their supporters desperate for a victory that would not only give them local bragging rights but also put them within touching distance of their first major final since 1981.

"We want to win the Carling or FA Cup, but we must finish in the top four," said Mancini.

"Is that the priority? Yes."

The comments place the harsh reality of modern-day football into sharp focus, but it is a view not likely to be shared in the stands by fans who have suffered so much since their trophy cabinet began collecting dust.

However, Mancini was quick to add that a trophy could prove to be the catalyst for that top four berth.

"I am new in Manchester City, so the trophy is important to me. But the same is true for the players and the club because when you start to win trophies, you change your mentality," said the Italian.

"We want the Carling Cup. But it must only be the start."

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