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Manuel set for a late Serg'

Manuel Pellegrini expects his Manchester City players to have learnt from last year's Wembley nightmare as they prepare for tomorrow's League Cup final against Sunderland.

Pellegrini, appointed last summer, was still at Malaga when City suffered a shock loss to Wigan – in what proved Roberto Mancini's last match in charge – in the FA Cup final last May.

Pellegrini is not interested in looking back at what went wrong under a different manager on that day, but does think the players could take extra motivation from it.

The Chilean said: "I don't like to talk with them about what happened last year, but I am sure, for every player, it is a lesson.

"It is very beautiful to play for a title at Wembley and very awful to lose it.

"For all of them it is not revenge – it is another team, another year, another situation – but I am absolutely sure all will be 100 per cent motivated to win."

The match could prove pivotal to the remainder of City's campaign.

Victory could lay the platform for further glory in other competitions, but defeat could rob them of more momentum at a critical time.

Last month, talk of a quadruple bid was rife but that has quietened down after losing to title rivals Chelsea in the Premier League and a potentially decisive Champions League defeat to Barcelona.

"We would be very happy if we achieve it because it reflects all your work from the year," said Pellegrini, who is boosted by the potential return of star striker Sergio Aguero. "This our first possibility.

"We have played a very good League Cup because we have won all the games, scored 19 goals and conceded just one.

"I think it is very important to win the Cup and the way we play."

Pellegrini was brought in with an expectation that he could take the club to the next level and win more silverware.

Indeed, chief executive Ferran Soriano even said five trophies in the next five years was the target.

Pellegrini is therefore under pressure to deliver but he does not think it is any greater on him than any other manager elsewhere.

He said: "The pressure is always exactly the same for all the teams.

"The pressure is a personal pressure – for managers, players, all of us. I think we have the same pressure to win.

"It is very important for this club to win titles. To win the first trophy at Wembley is very important."

For Sunderland, the match provides a pleasant and potentially glorious distraction from their fight against relegation.


The Wearsiders need not have anything to fear either having recorded a home victory over City in each of the past four seasons.

Pellegrini, speaking at his pre-match press conference, said: "It is always dangerous playing against any team.

"I am sure we are the favourites, but we cannot forget that Sunderland eliminated Chelsea and Manchester United – big teams.

"They are in the final because they deserved it. I am absolutely sure it will be a very close game."

Top scorer Aguero, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, is included in the squad after returning to training this week.

Pellegrini would not comment on whether Aguero might start or whether some of the other cup regulars in Costel Pantilimon, Joleon Lescott or Marcos Lopes might feature.

He said: "Of course it is very important for the team to have Sergio again with us because he is a very important player.

"We must see if he is 100 per cent to play the whole match.

"It is not easy to choose the 11 starters. All the players deserve to play."