With little evidence that the club are looking to do anything but persist with Manuel Pellegrini or turn to Patrick Vieira as manager, while waiting for Pep Guardiola's availability in one year's time, City could conceivably face both Guardiola's Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the same group stage next season. That is a result of Uefa pressing ahead with plans for a seeding change to reward national league winners - making the title holders in the seven highest-ranked countries plus the defending Champions League winners the top seeds in each of the eight groups.
The new rules, confirmed yesterday, are also likely to punish Arsenal and Manchester United, by relegating both to second-seed status. But City - who will face a tricky Champions League qualifying round draw unless they displace Manchester United for third in the Premier League - are likely to slip to third seeds, based on their probable position outside Europe's top 16 clubs in the governing body's rankings. City have dropped out of the top 16 according to the latest coefficients. Juventus and Porto have climbed into the top 16, squeezing City out. Despite their position as defending Premier League champions, the club's continued struggle in Europe and a difficult domestic season have damaged their ranking.
The new seeding system should elevate league-leading Juventus and Zenit St Petersburg to top seeds, plus France's champions - with Chelsea likely to be the British representative among the elite group. If the Champions League victors also win their national title then the eighth top-seeded team will be the recently crowned Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven, who are ranked 30th in Uefa's club standings.
On present placements, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Porto will drop in status in the August draw. Arsenal, who are second in the Premier League and 10 points behind Chelsea, were seeded first in their group this time round, ahead of Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht, as were Atletico Madrid and Porto.
Though City had expected this news, it comes as another blow when obstacles to their development keep materialising. Any scintilla of hope Guardiola might be willing to leave Bayern for the Etihad this summer vanished with the 6-1 annihilation of Porto in the Champions League in Germany on Tuesday.
The sense remains at City that talk of a Pellegrini sacking may be premature. Though the Napoli coach, Rafael Benitez, is ready to take on a Premier League job this summer, there is no sense City have been tempted by his extraordinary European record - which he will defend against Wolfsburg in the Europa League tonight.
United are already building the squad which they hope will enable them to compete in the Champions League next season, with Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels and PSV Eindhoven striker Memphis Depay players they are interested in. Reports in Germany that United have made a bid for Hummels are wide of the mark, however.
City's summer is more fraught with uncertainty, including the future of Yaya Touré - who has indicated he has ambitions elsewhere and has sanctioned his agent, Dimitri Seluk, to question Pellegrini's ability in an interview.
Pellegrini will be frustrated by the new seediings. Before this season's Champions League he said that City, as English champions, should have been seeded higher in the Champions League draw so as to avoid playing Bayern Munich for the second year running. “In our group we have the champions of Germany, England and Russia, so it seems a bit unbalanced,” he said.
POINTS MAKE PRIZESUEFA COEFFICENTS1 Real Madrid 167.228pts
3 Bayern Munich149.711
4 Chelsea 142.078
5 Atletico M120.228
7 Schalke 111.711
9 Arsenal 110.078
10 Man United 103.078
11 Paris S-G100.450
12 B Dortmund99.711
13 Valencia 99.228
16 B Leverkusen87.711
17 Man City 87.078 – The Independent
Original source: Blow to City’s hopes for CL glory