Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City manager, declared on Sunday night that one trophy will not be enough for him this season and that lifting the Capital One Cup will give his side the belief that they can win four.
City revealed a mentality they lacked in last season’s FA Cup final when they came from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 and Pellegrini, not prone to grand pronouncements, said that the club would now attempt to clinch a historic domestic treble of FA and League Cups and Premier League title – with the FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan next. “We are going to try. It’s not easy,” he said. “We have respect for Wigan. We know what happened with Wigan [in the FA Cup final] last year. We are going to try to do it, of course.”
Though the 2-0 deficit City take to Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 a week on Wednesday creates a huge challenge, Pellegrini said that his side’s hopes of a quartet of trophies were renewed. “I’m absolutely sure that without good players it’s impossible to have a good team,” he replied. “It’s important that top players play as a team and today we did it.”
For Pellegrini, a monkey is immediately removed from his back. His lack of European managerial silverware is often quoted at him, with the 2004 Intertoto Cup being the only triumph for the Chilean on the continent. He said that crossing this new threshold was significant. “For me, it’s very important to win trophies but it’s also important to be in Europe for 10 years,” he said.
“If you are trying to win trophies in clubs that it’s possible to do it, you are always frustrated. I was very happy with my years in Villarreal, my three years in Malaga. Maybe the only [big] club before Manchester City was Real Madrid but I was there just one year. I was absolutely sure if we kept working we could win titles and today we won the first one.”
The Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, declared himself “sad” – though he said an angry reaction from his midfielder Sebastian Larsson after he was substituted was due to a foul in which studs were put into his foot in the build-up to Yaya Touré’s equaliser. “I’m not going to be a hypocrite like most and blame the referee but it’s a foul,” he said. “If you ask the referee, maybe he will tell you. He will have an excuse, they always have an excuse. Larsson is limping, hurt with studs in his foot.”
Poyet observed that two sublime first-time strikes, by Touré and Samir Nasri in the space of 105 seconds, were something that he could not legislate for – and were the difference between the sides. “Maybe I should have played two keepers to have a chance,” Poyet said. “The quality decided the game because they were two wonder finishes. There’s not much we can do with Yaya Touré unless we shoot him.
“I think we played [even] better by far than at Newcastle [in the 3-0 win last month]. At Wembley, against Manchester City, we had a chance. Maybe we missed some half-chances, but we made City earn it in a quality way. The rest is not in our hands. It’s not nice, when you are on the losing side, I hate it. Somebody needs to win because it is a final.
“I am a believer that City need to be average on the day. The special player like Nasri and Yaya are going to give you a problem if they have a good day. I am sad. I hate [losing this game] and [yet] I am proud.”