City belief turned tide

David Silva feels Manchester City taking control of the title race with a crucial victory over United proved Roberto Mancini’s team have the mentality to close out their pursuit of the league and could help change the face of English football for years to come.

The victory, secured through Vincent Kompany’s header on Monday night, allowed City move level on points with the champions but their goal difference is eight better ahead of their two remaining games against Newcastle and QPR.

United led by eight points with six games left but they know they are likely to need maximum points against Swansea and Sunderland and hope City slip up for them to stand a chance of winning a 20th title.

A fourth season since the Abu Dhabi United Group takeover had looked set to end without a City trophy. But four consecutive victories have put Roberto Mancini’s team in control and Spanish midfielder Silva, 26, who acknowledges his own form has tailed off in recent weeks, thinks Monday’s win and a first league title since 1968 could have far-reaching consequences.

“This is an important moment for us psychologically because we knew we had to win this game,” he said. “Mentally we knew we had to win it.

“We did that and now we have to continue concentrating on the job. It does give us the confidence we need for the last two games. The Newcastle game is like a final for us now. We have to win it.

“We are ready to win the title. We don’t concentrate on United. We concentrate on ourselves. We beat them there, we beat them here. We know how we want to play.

“We know where we want to be. Don’t get me wrong — United are a great team; a fantastic team. They’ve been winning titles for a long time.

“But as I say — we beat them there, we beat them here. We don’t need to think about United. We’ve passed that mental stage now. They are a great team and they have been winning and winning and winning but we are here to make things difficult. We believe we can win the title.”

Mancini’s behaviour in recent weeks has been considered erratic and his constant claims that United face an “easy” schedule has brought anger from other Premier League managers.

His comments about referees have never stopped short of sarcastic and before the match, which saw him attempt to square up with Ferguson at one point, he had insisted that even if City won, United would remain favourites.

While many observers have rolled their eyes at Mancini’s antics — and Ferguson was critical of him after the game at the Etihad Stadium — Silva believes the Italian’s behaviour has been a huge boost for his players.

Silva added: “Perhaps Roberto has deflected the pressure from us by saying the title is over. He has certainly taken the pressure off the players which always helps.

“I’m not sure how Mancini does or doesn’t look upon Ferguson. I’m sure he sees him as a great, influential manager. Of course Ferguson is both those things. But Mancini doesn’t transfer that fact to us.

“It’s been a very, very long season, very tough. It’s very important that we finish the job now. We win the two matches and we win the title.”

The catalyst for the ugly exchanges between Ferguson and Mancini was Nigel de Jong’s challenge on Danny Welbeck in the second half and the United striker initially feared he could miss Euro 2012.

The United player left Etihad Stadium in a protective boot and underwent scans yesterday which determined he merely sustained heavy bruising.

Ferguson feels that coughing up two late goals to draw 4-4 with Everton was pivotal in his team surrendering the advantage in the title race.

“You can look back on all sorts of games but we’ve got to look at the Everton game,” he said. “That was an absolutely ridiculous performance in the last seven minutes to lose two goals and that’s maybe cost us the lead.

“Another way of looking at it is that we only need to win two games of football but of course we’re not in the driving seat anymore.”


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