Meanwhile City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has finally spoken on the subject of next season and indicated that a top six finish is expected. Good. A reasonable and realistic goal given the make up of the other clubs.
Any reasonable analysis of the top four clubs shows that United maintain an excellent squad even if Liverpool have a better starting first 11. Rafa's challenge this off season is not to bring in starters but the squad players that can fill in when a player is suspended or injured.
Arsenal appear to me to be one player, a world class midfield ball winner, away from competing with the top two. Wenger has never replaced Viera in the team and it is that one signing that is required this off season.
Chelsea are good, obviously, but also getting old. There is some serious squad tinkering that needs to start at Stamford Bridge moving forward.
The Big Four will remain the Big Four. Which leaves two or three more clubs for City to fight with to achieve the Chairman's goals.
Aston Villa have faded towards the end of the season but a good young team is being built. The bottom line with Villa next season is Gareth Barry. If he stays, and I don't believe that will be the case, then Villa should remain in contention. If Barry leaves then the heart of the club is gone and it will take them a year to regroup. Where Barry ends up is to me the most crucial off season move of all.
If Barry ends up at Liverpool then Rafa will finally truly have the squad to challenge United. Then again if it is Arsenal, which is where I believe he should go, then the Gunners will be right back in the thick of things.
As you may recall prior to the arrival of MON I was hopping that City could end up with Barry as he is a player I rate very highly and his form had artificially dipped. MON got the best out of him alas and Barry returned to the England Squad. I'm very happy with City's midfield, but Barry would be a master stroke if the club could get him simultaneously negatively impacting a rival while creating a Club Captain for City.
Over at Everton the best manager in England, David Moyes, continues to do it with smoke and mirrors. The Scotsman will not win Manager of the Year just because Fulham's Roy Hodgson has so exceeded expectations but this is now multiple years in a row that one of the thinest squads in the Premier League has challenged for a Champions League place. The Toffees remain one or two significant injuries away from struggling each year but even then somehow find a way to compete.
When Moyes pulled an absolute shocker by adding Marouane Fellaini for 15 million there wasn't a journalist or fan in sight who thought he hadn't over paid by at least 7 million for the Belgian. Turns out if anything it was a bargain.
So you can cast a scenario with a Barry leaving and the smoke and mirrors finally failing where Villa and Everton struggle to repeat their form next year.
Now if any Villa or Everton fan happens to wander bye - and welcome - don't get me wrong. I think MON and Moyes are the two best Managers in the Premier League and the long term health of each team is excellent. I'm just saying that you can make an argument that next year both may perform slightly less than this year which is a perfect opportunity for City to achieve the Chairman's goal.
Because along with City should come... Spurs. If Tottenham could ever get off to a good start in a season they would be challenging for the top four. You can make the argument that Daniel Levy's decision to bring in Harry Redknapp impacted both the league title and brought European football to White Hart Lane. That first week the amazing last second victory over Liverpool turned not only Tottenham's season around but deprived Liverpool of a couple of crucial points that would have piled a lot more pressure on United in the title run in.
The games this weekend will determine if Spurs make it into the Europa League. If not then I anticipate Spurs joining City, Villa and Everton in a four way battle for two potential top six places. If Spurs do get into Europe then that opens the door for someone like West Ham to join the challenge.
Who City bring in this off season will be fodder for a million blogs over the coming months. It has traditionally taken 18 months to 2 years for foreign players to become comfortable in the Premier League. As such I expect Kompany, De Jong, Zabaleta and Robinho to be even better next season. City are probably three players away from having a starting 11 that can meet the Chairman's goal. Then it will be about crafting an effective overall squad. That as Liverpool have shown takes a little longer.