Mancini wants euphoric City to forget final

MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini has warned his players to get back to basics at Ewood Park tonight as they look to secure Champions League football.

There is a wave of euphoria in and around Eastlands with the FA Cup final against Stoke to look forward to next month and the chance to end a 35-year wait for a major trophy.

Mancini, however, wants a reality check following the Wembley win over Manchester United when they travel to Ewood Park.

The Italian is keen to avoid a performance similar to the one they gave against Liverpool, which ended in a 3-0 defeat.

City are on course for a top-four place and a spot in the Champions League while Blackburn are in freefall after failing to win any of their last 10 league games.

Mancini said: “It has been a good week but now Manchester United are in the past. We should forget it.

“Now we need to focus only on the next four games before the final. It is impossible to think of the final at this moment.

“We have games against Blackburn and West Ham, teams fighting against relegation. These matches are very dangerous.

“If we think we can go to Blackburn and play 50% it is better we stay at home and not spend the money to go there. If we have the same focus as against United, the same concentration, we will win a lot of games.

“We must give 100% because Blackburn are a strong team at home and it will be a very hard game.”

Winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, in his second spell with City, believes they are taking huge steps.

“The win over United just tells you how far the club has come in such a short space of time and how far it can go, ” he said.

“We have come to a point where we have beaten them in a semi-final and it is important we maintain this form.”

Mancini could be tempted to name an unchanged line-up against Steve Kean’s struggling side.

Italian striker Mario Balotelli looks set to retain his place following the victory over United as Carlos Tevez has a hamstring injury.

With defender Micah Richards also absent with a similar problem, Pablo Zabaleta is set to stay in the team.

Blackburn must play ugly to ensure their top-flight survival, according to their Swedish star Martin Olsson.

Rovers have abandoned their renowned direct approach since Sam Allardyce was sacked and replaced by Kean, but have also found themselves dragged into the relegation fight.

Olsson, who plays left-back or left-wing for Rovers, admitted the players have had to adapt to the change since Allardyce left.

He said: “Keano is a different kind of manager, he likes to play the ball on the ground with lots of one-touch, two-touch football.

“It was different to Sam but we have to get used to that and it has been going well on the pitch but we haven’t got the points we wanted.

“To be honest, now is not the time to play attractive football, it’s about getting points and digging in. Even if we do long balls, I don’t really care how we play so long as we get the points.”

Kean has been the target of criticism from disaffected fans but Olsson insisted it was unfair to blame the manager.

He added: “You can’t blame it all on him, we players have to do our job as well. But we know the situation we are in and if we just keep playing with confidence I can’t see us going down.

“We have been playing some great football at times but some decisions haven’t gone our way and we’ve been a bit unlucky as well.

“We haven’t even thought about relegation, we’re strong mentally and cannot even think about the negatives. We’ve been in the Premier League for a long time and it’s not going to happen that we’re going to go down now.”

Ryan Nelsen and Vince Grella are injured for Rovers and Steven Nzonzi serves the last match of a three-game suspension. on-loan Roque Santa Cruz, meanwhile, is unavailable against his parent club.

Junior Hoilett, the 20-year-old Canada-born striker, should be back after missing the defeat at Everton with a hamstring problem.

Kean echoed Olsson’s sentiments yesterday, saying: “It’s lovely to win and play nice football but at this stage of the game it’s about winning.

“We have only lost once in almost four months at home, since I have become manager, so Ewood is going to be a tough place for any team to come.”

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