Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has claimed that a title win for his Chelsea rival Jose Mourinho would be ‘very disappointing for football, for fans, for everyone’.
Chelsea, who play at Swansea this afternoon, are two points behind leaders Liverpool and would be delighted if Pellegriniâ€™s City, who are two points further back, draw at Anfield in the lunchtime kick-off.
But Pellegrini, who has refused pointedly this season to respond to Mourinho’s provocative comments, is adamant that an attack-minded team deserve to finish first. Liverpool have scored 90 goals, City 84 and Chelsea just 65.
Twice before, Mourinho’s Chelsea sides have bucked the norm by winning the Premier League without being the highest scoring team, which is the usual outcome. But former Malaga coach Pellegrini, who crossed swords with Mourinho when the Special One managed Real Madrid, said: “It would be very disappointing” for football, for the fans, for everyone. I think the most attractive football, the more goals you can score, should be rewarded. I’m not saying it’s not important to defend very well. Football is attacking and defending. But I think big teams must play as big teams.”
Pellegrini has also taken issue with both Mourinho and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers over their insistence that, despite their positions in the table, there is no pressure on their respective teams.
Pellegrini dismissed such spin on the tight, three-way title chase and added that the players at Anfield and Stamford Bridge would give it little credence either.
He said: “Maybe they are covering [themselves] for if they don’t win the title. But really, I don’t think both of these managers feel that is the reality. This profession is about pressure. I can’t believe being in this profession without pressure.
“More important, when you manage important teams, is to have the chance to win the title. I don’t know what their players think but I’m sure if I said to my players ‘we don’t have any pressure to win!’, I don’t think it would work.
“I don’t think the players agree – not important players – that they don’t have a chance of winning the title. Not when they are one or two points off the top of the table. When they are 10 points away, maybe.”
City striker Sergio Aguero is poised to return after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and Chilean Pellegrini insists he would not swap his Argentine ace for Luis Suarez, despite the Uruguay star’s super season.
Suarez has shone in Liverpool’s campaign and steered clear of the controversy that dogged him last season, leading many to see him as a Footballer of the Year candidate.
Pellegrini added: “I think a lot of Suarez, he’s a great player, not only a striker. He scores goals but he also plays a lot for the team.
“But if you tell me I could change him for Sergio, I’d say No. Sergio has had a difficult season with injuries but I am sure that any team who played with him would be improved. He is very strong inside the box, scores a lot of goals and can play with the midfielders. He is a big player.”
Victory at Anfield, followed by another win in midweek over relegation-haunted Sunderland, would make City clear favourites for their second title in three seasons.
But Pellegrini said: “If we win both games we have made a huge statement but it won’t be finished.” - Mail on Sunday