Manchester, United Kingdom – Roberto Mancini believes Manchester City have the ability to dominate the Premier League for years to come – but only if they secure their first title.
City will clinch a first top-flight crown for 44 years if they defeat relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers at Eastlands on Sunday.
Mancini's side are level on points with Manchester United, who travel to mid-table Sunderland, but have a superior goal difference over their neighbours.
Asked if his City team could go on to dominate the league for years to come, Mancini told reporters in Manchester on Friday: “I think Manchester City now is one of the top teams in England and Europe.
“After, if Manchester City can win the title for three or four years, it is possible. Now, I don't know but now it's important to win the first title and a second afterwards.”
In a thrilling campaign, City have spent most of it at the top of the table. However, a stuttering run of form allowed 19-times title winners United to open up an eight-point advantage at the summit with six games remaining, a lead City have managed to erode after a five-match winning run.
It has left City on the brink of winning a remarkable title race although Mancini was anxious to play down the hype at his pre-match press conference.
“It's been a normal week, the players are very well. I think maybe Saturday or Sunday they will have pressure because they have an important game,” added Mancini, who is set to keep faith with the same team which won 2-0 at Newcastle last Sunday.
“But it doesn't change our situation. We have to win an important game, a difficult game.
“It's a big game for Manchester City because it's the first time in a long time.”
QPR have a number of City connections which make them dangerous opponents. Their manager Mark Hughes was sacked by City in December 2009 while Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton are among three former players expected to line-up against their old club.
“For me, QPR are a good team and don't deserve to go down,” added Mancini.
“I hope they can stay in the Premier League even if they lose against us.
“Sunderland play for nothing (against United). I'm sure they play 100 per cent but they play for nothing. For this reason they (United) have the easier game.
“I am very proud because I think my players work very well this year. When you fight with a top team like United, you have to work very well.
“We would like to win this Championship for our supporters. After more than 40 years it is very important for them.” – Sapa-AFP