Manchester City's European campaign has been an almost unmitigated disaster since the last few minutes of their opening match at Real Madrid, where a famous victory was turned into a demoralising defeat after two late goals. With Champions League progression now an impossibility, they face a struggle to make the Europa League, sitting one point behind Ajax going into the last match.
Whilst some have suggested City would be better off not playing Europe league football, it's clear to my eye they should be going all out to try and ensure they do make third place in the group.
The only real benefit to not playing European football is that they would be able to give more focus to the league, but they hardly lack enough players to compete on two fronts, indeed more games would give Mancini an opportunity to ensure all of his stars get playing time.
This is one of the benefits of the Europa league football, but more importantly it would allow City to get more experience of European football. Having been dumped out of both the Champions League and the Europa league in the early rounds last year, the club has yet to really get a full season under its belt on the continent.
Their poor season in the Champions League this time around means they still haven't put together a good run in Europe, and if they were able to do that in this year's Europa league, they may be better prepared for the Champions league next season.
Most of City's players have extensive European experience, but as a collective unit they've barely scratched the surface.
There are plenty of quality sides in the Europa league this season, many of whom will be playing Champions League football next season. Anyone who doesn't believe a two legged tie with the likes of Atletico Madrid or Napoli would be a good experience for the club is mad.
The Europa League is an excellent place for teams to gain experience of European football, and a clear example of a team translating success there to the Champions League can be found in Shakhtar Donetsk.
Manchester City should be doing everything they can to ensure they are still playing European football in the New Year.
image: © nicksarebi