MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini has stressed the importance of keeping a cool head as his side bid to close out title success tomorrow.
City are within touching distance of a second Barclays Premier League crown in three seasons heading into their final game against West Ham at the Etihad Stadium.
With a two-point advantage over Liverpool and a much superior goal difference, Pellegrini’s men realistically need just a draw to complete the job.
With Liverpool simultaneously playing Newcastle, the potential for a nerve-jangling finish does still exist – but any jitters are not being betrayed by the normally ice-cool Pellegrini.
Asked if he suffers from nerves, Pellegrini said: “I know how to control [them] – it is different. After so many years, it is very important to control your emotions because when you have to take decisions under emotion normally you do it the wrong way.
“I think it is very important for the manager to be calm, to try to repeat what we did the whole year.”
There did appear some tension at Eastlands on Wednesday as City played out 64 goalless minutes against Aston Villa before eventually powering home 4-0.
The mood was one of celebration come the final whistle and Pellegrini, after continually playing down his side’s position in the title race, now expects his players to finish in style.
“I think so, yes,” said Pellegrini, when asked at his pre-match press conference whether his side had played the best football in the competition this season.
“I expect to win. We are thinking not of winning one point but just winning the match and the best way to do it is to play the way we always do.”
Pellegrini certainly has no interest in playing for a draw. “Every team must play every game to win,” the Chilean said. “It doesn’t matter in which conditions they are playing, every team must want to win.”
Pellegrini arrived last summer promising vibrant attacking football and has varied little from his initial philosophy throughout the season. And with the finishing line in sight, he sees little reason to change now.
The 60-year-old said: “It is the work from the whole year that we play for but also it is a normal game because I think the best way to do it is to repeat what we have done all season so far.”
Pellegrini was unwilling to discuss the magnitude of his achievements in his first season in England or whether or not City had been handed the title by default after slips by Liverpool and Chelsea.
These issues were among a number of questions Pellegrini said he would rather answer after tomorrow, much in keeping with the way he has given little away all year.
Questions about Financial Fair Play, manager of the year and the Football Association commission’s report into the future of the game were also deemed irrelevant as he focused on the job in hand.
He was willing to admit, though, that he had always been confident his team could arrive in this position.
He said: “When I arrived here, my target was always to play well and try to win the title. It is difficult to do it but the moment I accepted the job it is because I had a lot of trust I could do it.”
Pellegrini has a fully-fit squad available with Sergio Aguero back in contention after a groin injury.
Aguero, top scorer with 28 goals in all competitions this season, missed the game against Villa after limping out of the action at Everton last weekend.