Pellegrini hopes Russians heed lesson

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hopes Russian football supporters will learn from the punishment handed to CSKA Moscow for the racial abuse of Yaya Toure.

CSKA must play their next Champions League home match in a partially closed stadium after their supporters were found guilty of aiming monkey chants at the City midfielder a fortnight ago.

Toure was so upset by the abuse he received at the Arena Khimki that he suggested players could boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia if such incidences were not stamped out.

For their part, CSKA vehemently denied any monkey-taunting took place but accepted their punishment, which will apply to the visit of Bayern Munich on November 27.

With the clubs due to meet again at the Etihad Stadium tonight the matter is again being discussed, and Pellegrini hopes the way forward has been shown.

The Chilean said: “The fans of CSKA made an important mistake.

“The club, I don’t know why they denied it at the beginning or what their reaction is now but Uefa acted and gave them the punishment they deserve.

“I hope we can leave it in the past and it will be an example for Russian fans because they have a World Cup in their country.”

Defender Pablo Zabaleta, who was sitting alongside Pellegrini at a press conference to preview the next Group D meeting of the sides, also hopes Uefa maintains a strong stance.

He said: “Obviously what happened in Moscow was really hard for Yaya.

“We are all behind him and any time we see something like that we try to help the players.

“Hopefully Uefa is always on it. As players we can do nothing, we just need to give a massive support to the black players when they have some problems like that.”

Pellegrini has no concerns about Toure’s state of mind heading into the return match with CSKA, when City will hope to clinch a place in the Champions League last 16.

He said: “I think Yaya is an

experienced player. What happened in Russia, maybe he can’t forget, but tomorrow is a special match for him, not because of that but because Manchester City can go to the next stage of the Champions League.

“I think he will only be thinking about football.”

Meanwhile, the manager believes goalkeeper Joe Hart recognises the potential benefits of being left out of the team.

Pellegrini dropped Hart for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League defeat of Norwich and his replacement Costel Pantilimon will continue against CSKA Moscow.

The England goalkeeper has paid the price for a number of high-profile errors over the past year for both club and country.

With pressure growing, Pellegrini felt the time had come to make a change but he been impressed by the player’s reaction.

Pellegrini said: “I think Joe has reacted very well. He is a professional player. For him it is also a good thing to have a rest after playing so many matches.

“He is working without any problem, supporting Costel Pantilimon. Nobody wants to be out but he thinks it will be useful for him.”

Hart has been City’s No 1 since being unexpectedly promoted ahead of Shay Given in 2010. For most of that time he has been outstanding and it is only in the past 12 months that regular errors have crept into his game.

Pantilimon has had to wait patiently for an opportunity since being brought in during the summer of 2011, featuring only in domestic up ties until Saturday. The Romanian’s belated Premier League debut proved rather uneventful from his point of view as City romped to a 7-0 win.

On that basis, Pellegrini will not be reversing his decision as City bid to claim a place in the last 16 at the expense of the Russians.

The Chilean said: “I don’t [know] when Joe will come back to the team. “We will see in the future what we must do. For today, Pantilimon is playing.”


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