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Jose Mourinho has predicted that Manchester City will win the European Cup – but might have to ditch Roberto Mancini first.

The Special One has always promised he will return to English football one day, and, if he did quit Real Madrid, knows he will be on City’s radar – especially if they cannot land the Champions League under Mancini this season.

Mourinho’s fractured relationship with the dressing room deteriorated even further this week as he publicly questioned their desire and motivation, opening the door for him to leave at the end of the season.

And while he opted against an all-out assault on Mancini, whose reputation he savaged after succeeding him at Inter Milan, Mourinho did drop a couple of long-fused grenades ahead of Tuesday’s massive Champions League group opener between the champions of England and Spain in the Bernabeu.

Mourinho said: “Whether City can win it this year is a good question for Roberto, not for me.

“I think it must be the club manager who says whether they are contenders and want to win it and can win it.

“On the other side, I say we want to win, we can win, we are contenders. For me, City are in the group of teams that are big rivals.

“That’s a question you have to put to Roberto. He will answer it.

“Mark Hughes was their first coach with the new owners who started to spend money and buy good players.

“Then Roberto came. He has done good work, spent more money, bought better players and built an incredible squad.

“They won the first cup, the first championship, also the Charity Shield.

“I don’t know if it will be this season or next season, whether with Roberto or somebody else.

“But, in the future, normally, in the direction the club is going, sooner or later they can win the big cup.

“I don’t know if it will be him.”

Mancini – who’s unlikely to risk Sergio Aguero although the striker is training after a knee injury – responded with a statement of faith in his players and insisted he has the horsepower to conquer Europe.

He said: “If you drive a Ferrari, you can win it. If you drive a Fiat 500, probably not.

“We are working for this. We have a good team and have been together for two years.

“So, I am sure we will win this trophy in the future.

“I don’t know when, but I’m sure we will.

“We know what we need to do and how we need to improve.”

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