Manchester City vs Liverpool: 'We didn't win the title because of money, it was all about character', insists Manuel Pellegrini

Defending champions won the title with character, not financial muscle

Manuel Pellegrini has rejected suggestions that money made the difference between Manchester City and Liverpool in last season’s title race.

The Manchester City manager, whose side won their final five matches to snatch the Premier League from Liverpool’s grasp, argued that character was the more important quality in the run-in.

“The way we finished last season was very important, not only to win the Premier League but also to demonstrate the character of this team,” he said as City prepared to take on Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow.

“A lot of the media always talks about money but this was not about money. You can’t do that [win the final five games of a season] with money. You can do it with character, personality and with a style of play. When we win, it is not about money.”

When, with seven games of an enthralling season remaining, City came to Anfield and lost 3-2, it seemed the race was done. At the final whistle, Steven Gerrard, who was in tears, gathered his men around him and delivered an impassioned speech. Liverpool were then seven points clear of City who may have had two games in hand but failed to win the first of those, against Sunderland.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini holds the Premier League trophy with captain Vincent Kompany Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Manuel Pellegrini are in London today to promote the Premier League scheme Pellegrini regarded the defeat at Anfield, which was at its most intimidating as the occasion marked the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, as the turning point in the title race, rather than the conclusion that it appeared to be on Merseyside.

“We were convinced then that we had to win the last five games to win the title,” he said. “We were absolutely convinced we could do it because we felt we had played better than Liverpool in that game.

“It was a special day for Liverpool and there were a lot of mistakes by the referee but we never complained about that. We were sure that, if we were able to win the last five games, we could do it. All of us finished that game thinking we were unlucky to lose.”

That match may have been decisive but not in the way Pellegrini imagined. In the final moments, Jordan Henderson was dismissed for a reckless challenge and his absence for three of Liverpool’s final four matches, severely disrupted their pattern.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is given the celebratory bumps by his players after winning the Premier League Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is given the celebratory bumps by his players after winning the Premier League Most people, asked to name the moment when Liverpool lost their chance of a first championship since 1990, would point to Gerrard’s slip that allowed Chelsea’s Demba Ba to run through and score the opening goal in a 2-0 win. “I didn’t think the title was ours then,” said Pellegrini.

“I thought the title was ours in the last minute of the last game. It was so tight between the teams that it was not possible to think, two or three games before, that you had the title.

“They were very unlucky against Chelsea but very lucky in the game against us because Vincent Kompany had a very similar slip. I feel sorry for Gerrard but I don’t think that slip decided the title. There were 38 games through the whole year.”

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