Manchester City will return to Wembley in this year’s FA Cup semi-final after a comfortable victory over Barnsley in the 6th Round. Carlos Tevez scored a hat-trick, with David Silva and Aleksander Kolarov completing a 5-0 win. With City’s ailing league campaign meaning they’re almost certain not to retain the title they won in May, the cup has taken on renewed importance at the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Mancini would love some silverware to improve his chances of being given another chance to make City competitive in the Premier League and Champions League, with the Italian fully aware that this summer is one in which City will compete for some big name players.
It was a much changed line up, with six of the players who started in Monday night’s win away at Villa stepping down. Costel Pantilimon replaced Hart in goal, and Kolarov came in at left back, both of whom rarely feature for City in the league. Whether or not Mancini will continue such an excessive rotation policy as the competition nears its climax remains to be seen, but it would surely be questionable against strong opposition.
If City are to win the FA Cup - their only realistic chance of silverware this season despite adding £50m worth of talent to a title winning side - they will more than likely have to beat Manchester United, and it would seem a risky policy to play a weakened side against the league leaders.
After his three goals and Man of the Match performance against Barnsley, Tevez rightly took the plaudits, but his future, like many in the City squad, is in doubt. In his post-match interview, Mancini hinted that Tevez could leave in the summer.
"It is important that he continues to score because we need his goals in this period of the season, and also for the FA Cup.
"I don't know what will happen in the summer. Carlos has another year on his contract but many times he has said he wants to go back to Argentina."
With his £200k-a-week contract entering its final due to run out in the summer of 2014, it’s difficult to see Tevez remaining a City player next season. He’s made it clear that he won’t sign a new deal, with City now at risk of losing him on a free next summer. Mancini must surely insist he his sold in the next transfer window, freeing up space for top target Cavani to join Aguero in attack.
Tevez has a difficult relationship with Mancini, and it would seem better for everyone if he were to leave. Another striker who looks set to depart is Edin Dzeko; a player still held in high regard in Germany. Reports this week have suggested Borussia Dortmund are ready to make a £20m bid for the Bosnian. It would seem there’s significant room to manoeuvre in the striking department, particularly after the January sale of Mario Balotelli.
Samir Nasri is now so detested by the City fans because of his distinct lack of effort that it’s probably best he leaves, with Mancini’s recent interview with Daniel Taylor of the Guardian suggesting he isn’t exactly enamoured with the Frenchman's form, either. City could do with some pace in midfield, and Nasri could be sacrificed in order to attain it. Scott Sinclair should leave for the sake of his career, Maicon will move on, and Kolo Toure’s £160k-a-week contract expires, meaning he will have to take a pay-cut in order to stay.
Joleon Lescott, who is a firm favourite with the fans, may also leave due to his limited playing time. Then there’s Kolarov, a player who represents staggeringly bad business considering he was signed for £17m. That must surely rank as Mancini’s worst piece of transfer activity, and any money recouped on him would be a bonus.
If those players were to leave, along with Roque Santa Cruz and Wayne Bridge, whose contracts finally expire this June, City would once again be in a position to spend and still comply with FFP. This summer represents a significant opportunity to revamp their squad, and an FA Cup win would go a long way in helping Mancini remain in charge to oversee it.