Roberto Mancini's assistant, David Platt, has dismissed Sir Alex Ferguson's inflammatory claim that the Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, has a history of dangerous two-footed tackles, insisting that no amount of provocation from other clubs will deflect the Premier League leaders from their course towards a coveted title.
Mancini was privately furious when Ferguson said, after Kompany had been dismissed in the all-Manchester FA Cup third-round tie eight days ago, that he had seen the defender "do it before. He has got away with it before." The intervention, which Mancini viewed as a way of influencing City's unsuccessful appeal against the dismissal, has heightened the Italian's resolve to clinch the title before United visit City on 28 April.
Platt, whose side attempt to re-establish a three-point lead over United with a win at Wigan tonight, said: "People can say what they want to say. Sir Alex has his opinion on it, we have ours. I don't think he does have previous." In the past week, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has also had his say on City, as well as Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart, who suggested that the club " have lost a few games recently and maybe that's a little bit in their heads so we can take advantage".
Platt declared: "Recent results haven't got inside our head at all. Our focus is totally on the next game and, no matter what the outcome, our focus will be on the next one after that."
City's first successive home defeats since 2008 do bring a pressure to Mancini, which Platt expects to be manifest tonight in television close-ups seeking signs of stress in the Italian.
Mancini anticipates more clamour around his own club's pursuit of the title than United's, because it is 44 years since City's last championship. The fascination is how well-equipped Mancini is to deal with the scrutiny. He summarily quit the Internazionale job in the Anfield press room, after a defeat in 2008, and showed in his response to Carlos Tevez's conduct at Bayern Munich in October that his emotions can take over.
"His mentality and desire is to win," said Platt, who worked with Mancini for two years at Sampdoria. "He has full belief that we will win every football match. He's a perfectionist. People can talk about his character and his reaction, the TV cameras might be on him, but he's no different now than he was a month ago or six months ago in the FA Cup final – or when he was a player. He knows what it takes to go the distance. He's quite relaxed at this moment in time. Nobody's turning round and saying we've won [the title] now or [that we will have done] if we win the next two games. We fully expect the teams that are up there to continue to win games. Nobody's going to hand it to us."
Tevez harbours no desire to move to Paris St-Germain, despite the wealthy French side's ability to meet City's asking price – at least £30m – and the enthusiasm of the French club's new manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Ancelotti said of Tevez yesterday: "Tevez is a player I really like. He is fantastic. If we want to play at a high level, we must act well in the market, look for players who can really give us a hand." But Tevez still favours a move to Milan, with Internazionale preferable.