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Tuesday, January 18, 2011
De Jong: Let's start with FA Cup

ESPNsoccernet staff

Nigel de Jong wants Manchester City to go all out for FA Cup glory to bring that winning feeling to Eastlands and get the squad hungry for more success.

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• Mancini reluctant to rotate 'keepers

Manager Roberto Mancini is set to make at least six changes to his starting line-up for Tuesday night's third-round replay with Sven-Goran Eriksson's Leicester at Eastlands.

Victory would book a very winnable trip to Notts County, which could then leave City just two victories from a Wembley semi-final - and three away from their first major final since 1981.

For a club currently so ambitious, but which has been starved of success for so long, it would be an appearance to relish. Which is why De Jong is convinced no one at City should be dismissing what the FA Cup has to offer.

"You cannot put anything on a pedestal, including the Premier League or the Champions League,'' De Jong said. "The highest point for every footballer is the World Cup, but silverware is silverware. You can't just say we're going for this trophy or that one.

"This club has to start somewhere. Winning something would make the guys feel they can win more and be hungry for more success. It's about how you feel winning with each other. A lot of guys have won cups with different teams, but not together. If we start with an FA Cup or Europa League and get that feeling right, more success will come.''

Not that it will be easy. In introducing Shay Given, Patrick Vieira and James Milner to his starting line-up, Mancini is maintaining the quality threshold. However, his expensive squad were outplayed for half an hour by Wolves on Saturday, and then survived a spirited fightback by the skin of their teeth against a club mired in relegation trouble.

Leicester had City rocking at the Walkers Stadium 10 days ago - and the Foxes were unable to overcome Championship basement boys Preston at the weekend. It merely emphasises that nothing in English football comes easy, whether it is a trophy or a single win.

"It makes English football unique,'' said De Jong. "Over the last two years, the Premier League has developed to the point where it is not just about the first five teams. There are so many others who are real contenders these days. Wolves and all the other teams at the bottom of the league can give you real difficulties. That makes the league really exciting. We have seen this year everyone dropping points, which means the league could go all the way.''

Meanwhile, Mancini has told goalkeeper Joe Hart he can be one of the world's best, but only if he cuts out lapses of concentration such as the one that let Andy King score the equaliser for Leicester that forced Tuesday's replay.

"I think for a young goalkeeper it is important to always have full concentration but I think that Joe sometimes loses his concentration," Mancini said. "He is always very assured but it is important to have concentration always. He is improving but I think that he has a chance to improve more because he is young and this is his second year in the first team. He can become one of the best goalkeepers in England but for this to happen he has to want to work and want to improve.

"Without Joe's mistake it [the replay] would not be happening, but they deserved to draw that game because they played well."




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