Before the season, many speculated that if Manchester City did not win the Premier League title then Roberto Mancini would be fired. Eight months later, some are still speculating the same, meaning that a loss to Manchester United on Monday and Mancini could be out of a job.
For City to expect a title is not preposterous. The Citizens made their goal of winning the Premier League known and now three years into Mancini's reign at Eastlands, they want to see the Italian reach their expectations. With the money that he has had to spend and pretty much every resource he could possibly want at his disposal, if City fail to win a title then it is difficult to blame anybody else except for Mancini.
With the Citizens three points back of the Red Devils and just two matches to play after Monday, if they fail to get a result then the title is all but United's. A win and they are only ahead on goal difference, but it is something. A draw and they are dependent on United dropping points in the next two weeks, which is hardly going to be a comforting feeling for those on the blue side of Manchester.
Nobody will feel worse than Mancini, though. He admitted earlier this season to feeling the pressure to win the title and wondering if he could be sacked. Lately, his tune has changed and he's confident of being back at Eastlands next year, but that's hardly a guarantee. His status still appears to be very much up in the air.
Monday's match is not just a chance to make a claim for the title, but a chance to make a statement against United. They did so earlier in the season, demolishing the Red Devils, 6-1, but they then gave their lead atop the league back. If City can't win the league then they at least want to be superior to their far more successful neighbors. However, in this season they are the same thing. Win over Manchester, make a statement and top the league.
If the goal at City is a title and Mancini's job is dependent on it then his job may be dependent on one match - Monday at Eastlands and Sir Alex Ferguson in the other dugout.