Pellegrini goads Mourinho as Man City ease towards title
Convincing win leaves Man City with one hand on the Premier League trophy – and Pellegrini in no mood for humility
Manchester City 4 Aston Villa 0. Four second-half goals took Manchester City to within touching distance of the Premier League title last night, and prompted Manuel Pellegrini to have a dig at Jose Mourinho in his post-match interview.
The pair have ‘previous’ – an animosity stretching back several seasons – and Pellegrini couldn’t resist pointing out the difference between his side’s free-flowing football and the negative tactics deployed by Mourinho for much of the season. "Winning the title is very important but so is the way we are going to win it," said Pellegrini. "There are many ways to win it but I choose this one – attractive football."
The romp against Villa saw City score their 100th goal of the league campaign, one more than rivals Liverpool – who also trail the Sky Blues by two points in the title race – and 31 more than third-place Chelsea.
"We have a style of play which makes us an attractive team," explained Pellegrini, whose side are now on the brink of winning their second title in three seasons. "We score many goals and we always think we can score more. That for me has the same importance as winning the title, and I am very happy to win the title playing that way.”
All City need to do to capture the Premier League crown is take a point from their final fixture of the season, the home clash with West Ham on Sunday. Liverpool, for their part, must beat Newcastle and hope the Hammers produce a sensational shock at the Etihad.
Pellegrini is confident his boys won’t fall at the final hurdle. "Of course I expect to win the title now," he retorted, when the question was put to him. "It is the last game and we know if we win the last game we will win the title… we must play the way we have played against Villa, and the way we have played all season."
It took City more than an hour to break down the stubborn Villa defence but when Edin Dzeko finally found the net on 64 minutes the visitors’ resistance crumbled. The Bosnian striker bagged his second a few minutes later before Stevan Jovetic and Yaya Toure got themselves on the scoresheet in the closing minutes, the latter claiming the honour of bringing up City’s century of goals for the season.
The victory lifts City to the top of the table, a position they’ve occupied for only 11 days of a season in which they’ve stalked, at various times, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. "It has been a strange season because we have never been at the top of the table,” admitted Pellegrini. “Everybody was talking about us being the favourites but in March we were nine points behind Liverpool and eight behind Chelsea. We had three games in hand but we had to win all of those games.”
Asked to pinpoint one moment when the title race swung in City’s favour, Pellegrini replied: "It is difficult to find just one key moment in the season. I think the most important thing is that this team has always believed we can win the title from the beginning."