• Champions League

City owners demand European progress

ESPN staff
May 20, 2014
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Manuel Pellegrini and his Manchester City players have been warned that the club's owners expect progress in the Champions League next season.

After two group stage exits under Roberto Mancini, City managed to make it through to the Champions League knockout stages for the first time this season where they were defeated by Barcelona.

Now having regained the Premier League title, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has stated that City's next target will be to carry their domestic success onto the European stage.

"This year we have made some progress," Al Mubarak told City TV. "We have played much better football, been a lot more competitive and I think the experience coming through the two games against Barcelona will be invaluable for us.

"Let's be clear - Europe has always been an integral part of our strategy, an integral part of the success we want to achieve for this club. We will continue to progress."

Al Mubarak also insisted the Premier League champions will act swiftly in the transfer market this summer.

City are keen to build on their success of 2013-14, in which they also won the League Cup, even though they face a spending cap as a result of UEFA sanctions.

The European governing body has limited City's net spend on players this summer to £49 million pounds as one of their punishments for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.

But City said last week that figure would have no "material impact" on the planned transfer activity that Al Mubarak now says will begin imminently.

Al Mubarak confirmed that City, who are interested in the Porto pair of Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando and Arsenal's out-of-contract right-back Bacary Sagna, are at an advanced stage of their planning.

City had completed four signings - of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic - by July 19 last summer, with the Brazilian midfielder secured by early June, even before manager Manuel Pellegrini was officially hired.

Al Mubarak said: "We know exactly what needs to be done. We know exactly the players that need to go and the players that need to come in, the areas that need to be strengthened, the players that we intend to bring in to fill these areas.

"I can tell our fans to expect, as last year, an efficient and swift execution plan. We will have, after the World Cup, a good pre-season and we will go into the season very ready, as we did last year, to compete for four championships."

City attracted criticism after parting company with Mancini following a relatively disappointing end to the 2012-13 season, as the Italian had led the club to their first title in 44 years in 2012.

But his successor Pellegrini has taken little time to make a positive impression.

Al Mubarak said: "The decision to hire Pellegrini was a very important decision for us as we look at the next couple of years.

"I am absolutely delighted for him, for the fans, for the club, for everyone involved at Manchester City. It is a perfectly justified decision. I think the results speak for themselves."

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