De Jong: It's "do or die" for City
Manchester City midfielder Nigel De Jong is gearing up for a "do or die" week as the club prepare for a crucial Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur and the FA Cup final against Stoke City.
Fourth place City face fifth placed Tottenham on Tuesday night with a place in next season's UEFA Champions League at stake. Victory for Roberto Mancini's side would guarantee their participation in Europe's show-piece tournament next term.
Then on Saturday, City can end a 35-year long wait for a trophy when they take on Stoke in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
And De Jong admits City need to put everything into the next seven days to make sure their season is a successful one.
"This is a very important week for the club, the players and the fans. This is do or die for Manchester City," said De Jong. "Fourth place is in reach and everything is in our hands. We just have to win that game. We then have a chance to be FA Cup winners"
While Mancini is not convinced City's surprise defeat at Everton will have a major effect on their Champions League qualification hopes, it has cost him a chance to rest players ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final.
"I don't think we have a problem for fourth spot," Mancini said. "We still have three games left and we only need three points. But it was important we beat Everton because we have to prepare well for the final.
"Now I shall play with all the team against Tottenham because we want to win. That is not perfect for the final."
It looks increasingly likely skipper Carlos Tevez will play some part, which would pave the way for the South American to lead City into battle at Wembley.
The aim for Mancini and his players is to have secured the bare minimum of a place in August's Champions League qualifiers before then, as well as exerting some pressure on third-placed Arsenal, who themselves felt the power Stoke are capable of exerting at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.
There is no obvious reason why City should be troubled. Even though their away form remains patchy, on home soil they are a pretty formidable force, having won 14 out of their last 15 matches at Eastlands in all competitions.
In contrast, a season that has contained such enormous highs as beating both Milan clubs in the Champions League and coming from two goals down to beat Arsenal is ending in dreadfully disappointing fashion for Spurs. Not that Mancini is taking anything for granted.
"Tottenham are still a very good team," he said. "They have played Champions League and when you do that the season is very difficult. That is what we are trying to achieve and if we beat Tottenham, it is finished."
Saturday's Wembley trip is concentrating minds even more now it has become almost certain Manchester United will be celebrating a record 19th title just as Mancini is leading his team out of the tunnel. Yet City have made a pretty good job of ignoring events at Old Trafford all season.
Having been set two stiff challenges by owner Sheikh Mansour in the summer, the Blues know they could have achieved them both by the end of the week.