Affluent Manchester City aim to join top table

Manchester: Manchester City, the world`s wealthiest club thanks to the largesse of billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour, will be looking to transform financial might into silverware this season.

Coach Roberto Mancini is expected to have big-spending City challenging for a title they last won in 1968 when the Premier League kicks off on Saturday.

The club`s ambitious owners will demand Mancini deliver a top four finish at the very least as the Italian enters his first full season in charge.

Chelsea, who won the FA Cup and League double for the first time last season when they scored 103 league goals, played some dazzling football under Carlo Ancelotti, and look well equipped to lead from the front again.

Ancelotti said Chelsea were hungry for further success. "I think the Treble is possible, there is no reason we cannot win the Champions League as well with the squad we have," he said.

However, Chelsea have been unimpressive in their pre-season matches and Ancelotti needs to reinvigorate his men in time for Saturday`s kickoff against promoted West Bromwich Albion.

United`s bid for an unprecedented fourth successive title was thwarted by the London side but they served notice in last weekend`s 3-1 Community Shield victory over Chelsea that they intend to quickly win it back.

Manager Alex Ferguson, now 68, says he has no plans to retire and has every faith in his squad, only dipping into the transfer market to acquire the exciting skills of 22-year-old Mexican striker Javier Hernandez.

Ferguson, desperate to achieve a 19th league title for United and so pull clear of the record 18 they share with Liverpool, could make a bid for Germany`s Mesut Ozil of Werder Bremen but said on Sunday: "I have a great squad, I don`t need to add to it, but a lot of clubs would be interested in him."

Central to United`s success again will be the form of Wayne Rooney, who looked forlorn in the World Cup for England, but if he shines up front, so will United.

Manchester City, who have largely lived in their neighbour`s shadow for decades, could well launch a serious title bid this season too.

Bureau Report