Liverpool v Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini urges his team to approach Anfield encounter with a 'cold mind' on emotional day
Eagerly-awaited clash takes place close to the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough
Friday 11 April 2014
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 on Sunday could shape the destiny of the Premier League crown with both sides pushing hard for glory.
The match will also be an emotional affair, coming close to 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 significance of this is that 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 teams 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."
Pellegrini might have been in charge of the opposition on Sunday had events unfolded differently four years ago.
The 60-year-old did speak to Liverpool after Rafael Benitez left Anfield in 2010.
He has previously said he was "very near" to making the move while Liverpool's first-choice goalkeeper at the time, Jose Reina, wrote in his autobiography that he urged the club to appoint him.
Instead Pellegrini went to Malaga while Liverpool appointed Roy Hodgson.
Pellegrini said: "It is the past, not in the future. (I have) no regrets at the moment because I now have the chance to manage Manchester City. No regrets about that."
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