Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: Cold mind will win on emotional day

Respectful: Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini
Respectful: Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes a "cold mind" will be required to prevail in this weekend's showdown with title rivals Liverpool.

The eagerly-anticipated clash at Anfield tomorrow lunchtime could shape the destiny of the Barclays Premier League crown with both sides pushing hard for glory.

The match will also be an emotional affair, coming just three days before the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and a number of commemorations are planned.

Pellegrini is respectful of the occasion but, once kick-off arrives, wants his players fully focused on what is a crucial game in their run-in.

The Chilean said: "It will be a very emotional day but the team that has the cold mind will win the game.

"It is easy in these big games to have the motivation but it is very important to manage the anxiety. That is very important for all the players."

All matches this weekend will kick off seven minutes later than usual with a minute's silence held in what would have been the sixth minute of the game.

The FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough in 1989, at which 96 supporters died, was abandoned at 3.06pm.

Pellegrini said: "It is very important to remember what happened in that tragedy.

"It is important to have a good ceremony and try to look to the future and (make sure it) does not happen again, because those things cannot happen in the future."

City are boosted by a possible return of Sergio Aguero after five games out with a hamstring injury.

The Argentina striker, City's top scorer this season with 26, has been training for the past week and is back in contention.

Pellegrini said: "Sergio is okay. He has worked the whole week with the squad as normal. He doesn't have any problems."

Pellegrini is refusing to view the match as a title decider.

Liverpool top the table ahead of the weekend fixtures with Chelsea second and third-placed City four points behind the leaders, but with seven games remaining compared to the Reds' five.

Pellegrini said: "It is not a game that will decide the title.

"It is a very important game but we can beat Liverpool and after, if we lose against Sunderland and West Brom, we are not going to win the title.

"It is important because we are playing the team that are top of the table but if we think this game is more important than next Wednesday we are not going to win the title.

"Of course the team that wins this game has more chances to win the title, because the team that wins has three points more, but if you think that with this you finish the Premier League it is a mistake.

"There are a lot of other chances to continue fighting because, I think this year, the title will be decided by just one point at the end of the season."

City's games in hand might place extra onus on Liverpool to win but Pellegrini has no intention of playing for a draw.

He said: "The pressure is exactly the same for both teams, and for Chelsea also.

"We are not going to play at Anfield trying to draw, that is the most important thing. If we cannot win, (only then) is it better to draw than to lose the game."

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