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By ESPN Staff

Shinawatra sets sights on UEFA Cup berth

Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra believes UEFA Cup qualification is now a realistic aim for the Blues.

Although the authorities in his native Thailand continue to pursue him over various fraud allegations, Shinawatra could hardly have a better start to life as a Premier League boss.

Having produced one master-stroke in appointing Sven-Goran Eriksson as manager, Shinawatra has then seen the former England boss deliver a few more with signings such as Elano, Martin Petrov and Vedran Corluka.

As a result, high-flying City are currently third in the table and head to Portsmouth on Sunday looking to put clear daylight between themselves and one of their major rivals for a top six spot.

For, while even the most optimistic among the long-suffering Blues support accept a Champions League place is out of reach, qualification for Europe for the first time - Fair Play competitions excepted - in almost 30 years, is definitely within reach.

'When I first started to discuss buying Manchester City we hoped to be in the top 10 but now I think we can get into the UEFA Cup,' Shinawatra told ESPN. 'We are a sleeping giant. I am glad to be the one to wake that giant.'

Having already provided Eriksson with #40million for new players, Shinawatra is promising the former England manager more funds when the transfer window opens in January.

With Rolando Bianchi proving to be a rare failure for Eriksson and Valeri Bojinov still some way short of returning from a cruciate knee ligament injury, a new striker is a priority, while a renewed attempt to sign Parma's combative midfielder Marco Breschiano cannot be ruled out either.

And, should Eriksson get the men he wants, life at the Blue Camp will be looking very rosy indeed.

'I thought we would bring success to this club but I did not expect it to be this quick.' said Shinawatra.

'There is a blend of the old players and the new. They are playing so well together and there is a good team spirit. Everything is coming together quite quickly.'