With the race for European places hotting up now that clubs have had their final chance to add to their squads, Sven-Goran Eriksson has refused to close the door on any option.
City famously qualified for Europe via the Fair Play route to play in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup and now it’s the Intertoto Cup that the Blues are covering themselves for if they fail to qualify through their Premier League position.
Speaking about the Club's application, Sven told us: “It’s a possibility. The deadline was last Friday for the Intertoto Cup and we are in that.
Whilst the season so far has seen hot on the trail of both a Champions Leage and a UEFA Cup spot, the 'mini-slump' of late has seen us slip to the fringes of the European positions and other sides around us are certainly maintaining their form, making it a difficult task ahead to guarantee European football next season via a league finish.This may well have prompted the move by Sven and the club to register their interest in the competition, and whilst I have been against a move such as this on previous occasions both here and here, I do think the circumstances are different on this occasion.
The competition now has a new format, whereby clubs from the bigger European nations are virtually guaranteed a passage to round 3 - which means they will face just one two-legged match-up to get into the UEFA Cup, rather than the convaluted passage of previous seasons.
Also, we are now in a far healthier and stronger position as a club both on and off the pitch, and with the additions made this season we are well placed to compete in European competition, and coupled with the signings likely to arrive in the summer we should be confident of progressing through if this is the route we have to take.
Whilst it is a useful safety net option, obviously sights are still well and truly focused on reaching European competition next season by the more orthodox route but I think this is a pragmatic move, and a good insurance policy if required.