Manchester City v Barcelona: Manuel Pellegrini claims there is 'just one club in Manchester' as he looks to top United by beating Barcelona
Chilean does stress that their fierce rivals history still counts but hopes that they will do what United couldn't in 2009 and 2011 by defeating the Catalan side
Manuel Pellegrini today said that there is currently “just one club in Manchester” as his team head into a defining Champions League knock-out tie with Barcelona, in which he said he will not abandon his attacking principles.
The Manchester City manager’s comment came in response to a question about whether tomorrow night’s result will change the position in which Manchester United have traditionally been the biggest team in the city. It was not an attack on Manchester United – which is not the Chilean’s style – but certainly a blunt statement on the respective strengths of the city’s two teams, two years on from United’s Champions League final against the Catalans at Wembley. “If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it's ours,” Pellegrini said. “But you cannot forget what United has done in the previous years.”
City’s Yaya Toure dismissed claims that his lack of defensive caution made him a liability as “stupid”, insisting ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League tie with Barcelona that did not listen to such claims.
Toure’s free role left city exposed against Chelsea in the 1-0 Premier League defeat two weeks ago and more discipline will be needed against the Catalans, even though manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed today that Fernandinho is in the squad for tomorrow.
“They are not so important people,” Toure said of his critics, of whom Dietmar Hamann was one of the most forceful, declaring on the BBC’s Match of the Day that the Ivorian was a “defensive liability.” Toure said of this suggestion: “Sometimes you are disappointed when you hear some stupid things. I don’t hear him (Hamann) for a long time.”
Toure was equally prickly when asked whether his departure from Barcelona in 2009 for a club who were unproven was a risky one. “I went to City to win something,” he said. “If people are not happy with that, it’s not my problem.”
Pellegrini’s announcement that Fernandinho had trained without any problems this morning was the most significant revelation of his press conference, even though Sergio Aguero is a confirmed absentee. The City manager said the club would play the same ambitious way as always, though he did not dismiss the notion of playing with one striker to create more personnel to pack midfield and stunt the Spanish side.
“The most important thing is to be the team we have been here every week, to continue our style of play; our personality,” he said. “When you play against Barcelona you always must consider important things but the most important thing is to continue being the same team you see every week in [the] Premier League.
“To continue having the same style of play and the personality, but you cannot continue without thinking they have [Lionel] Messi and other important players. We are not just going to think about defending but what we can do with the ball. That is the most important thing. Possession is going to be very important because the most important thing is to see which part of the pitch we are fighting for possession. It is also important that when we get the ball Barcelona chase us.”
Pellegrini said that Barcelona were not the same quality of side as the one who defeated United in the 2009 and 2011 finals - "they are a different team; it is very difficult to continue at the same level as Barcelona played three years ago” - and he replied to the question of how to handle Messi: “with difficulty.”
The manager insisted that City’s journey from anonymity remained incomplete. “We are aiming to keep growing by winning many trophies - not just national but international trophies,” he said. “We are fighting for four titles this year. We have to be patient because you cannot change the team from one day to another. We have to keep the philosophy of the style and for that you need time.”
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