ROBERTO MANCINI insists Manchester City are now geared up for a drive to Champions League glory.
By SHAUN CUSTIS
They kick off this year’s campaign in the daunting surroundings of the Bernabeu Stadium where they face Jose Mourinho’s nine-time European kings Real Madrid.
But City boss Mancini expects his men to put their feet hard down on the throttle from the off.
This is a machine he believes is designed to win the biggest of races.
Mancini said: “If you drive a Ferrari, you can win. We used to drive a Fiat Cinquecento and it is not so easy but now we drive a Ferrari.
“We have a good team, we have played together for a few years, and I am sure we will win the trophy in the future. I don’t know when but at some stage, yes, the club will win.”
Real have been more like a Cinquecento themselves this season, losing two and drawing one of their first four games in La Liga. And they languish an astonishing eight points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
To add to the mix, their lead driver Cristiano Ronaldo has thrown an almighty strop about not being appreciated enough — which will probably be resolved when he gets a hefty pay rise and a new contract.
So the chance is there for City to make capital out of Real’s distress.
It is almost a year since Mancini’s men were beaten at Bayern Munich and he had his infamous bust-up with Carlos Tevez.
The betting then was that Argentinian Tevez would have been more likely to be lining up for City’s opponents tonight rather than still wearing the blue shirt.
But the rehabilitation of Tevez is one of the reasons City could have a better chance in Europe.
That is despite the fact they are in the hardest group with Ajax and Borussia Dortmund completing the quartet.
Mancini admitted: “I didn’t enjoy what happened but when Carlos came back from Argentina in January, we did very well.
“I was always sure he could come back but I don’t think he had the chance to come to Madrid. It is good for us that he stayed in Manchester.”
Though City crashed out at the group stage last season, Mancini felt they were unlucky. The 10 points they accumulated is usually enough to ensure a last-16 place.
He said: “It was a good experience last year. We played well in a good group but it wasn’t enough — even though we had 10 points. I think this group is stronger than last year and it will be very difficult for all the teams.
“But it is important that we get to the second stage this time.
“We must work hard because anything can happen after that.
“We have to start the group well but it will be a difficult match. Real are one of the best in the world but we want to do better than last year.”
While a draw in Spain tonight would be seen as a good effort by City, Mancini is aiming higher.
He added: “If you get a chance, you have to score. A draw could be a good result but our mentality is not to defend, we don’t have that mentality. If you want to do well, you have to attack very well.”
The Champions League has not been kind over the years to Mancini as a manager or a player.
He has never won the trophy while tonight’s rival Mourinho has lifted it twice, once after he succeeded Mancini as manager of Inter. The Italian insists, however, that the game is not about him against Mourinho.
He said: “We don’t have a personal relationship. I only know him as a manager. The most important thing will be the fantastic players on the pitch. It is the champions of Spain against the champions of England.
“For me, it is not important but it is important to the club and to the players. Without players, you can’t play but, without managers, you can still play.”
Mancini conceded Mourinho was right when he told SunSport at the weekend that Real were a bigger club than City.
He said: “It’s clear we don’t have the history like Real Madrid but I think Manchester City have won some trophies and we want to win now.
“We can’t win like Real Madrid because we would need 100 years but we want to try to win something and to continue to win if it’s possible.
“In the next 10 years City will be a top team like Real but they have a big history and there’s the difference.”