City chief happy with early Brit trip
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is pleased to be getting his side's trip to Stoke out of the way early this season.
City dropped what might have proved two vital points in their ultimately successful title bid when they last visited the Britannia Stadium in the Barclays Premier League in March. That game came amid a difficult spell for City in which their championship hopes seemed to have been lost as they fell eight points behind Manchester United. Yet after staging a dramatic recovery in the closing weeks of the season to pip United on goal difference, their fightback from 1-0 down to secure a point at Stoke was seen in a different light. Nevertheless, Mancini is glad the notoriously tricky trip is coming when there is less pressure and, such is the anticipated difficulty, next week's mouth-watering clash against Real Madrid is at the back of his mind. Mancini said: "We need to think only about Stoke because we never win there - it is a difficult pitch - but it is better we have this game now than the end, like last year."