| 9.5°C Dublin

Platt claims City won't get sucked in by Fergie mind games

DAVID PLATT, Roberto Mancini's assistant, has dismissed Alex Ferguson's inflammatory claim that Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has a history of dangerous two-footed tackles, insisting that no amount of provocation from other clubs will deflect the Premier League leaders from their course towards a coveted title.

Mancini was supposedly furious when Ferguson said after Kompany was dismissed in the all-Manchester FA Cup third-round tie eight days ago that he had seen the defender "do it before. He has got away with it before."

The intervention, which Mancini viewed as a way of influencing City's unsuccessful appeal against the dismissal, has heightened the Italian's resolve to clinch the title before United visit City on April 28.

Platt, whose side attempt to re-establish a three-point lead over United with a win at Wigan tonight, said: "People can say what they want to say. Alex has his opinion on it, we have ours. I don't think he does have previous."

In the past week, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has also had his say on City, as well as Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart, who suggested that the club "have lost a few games recently and maybe that's a little bit in their heads so we can take advantage."

Platt declared: "Recent results haven't got inside our head at all. Our focus is totally on the next game and, no matter what the outcome, our focus will be on the next one after that."

City's first successive home defeats since 2008 do bring a pressure on Mancini which Platt expects to be manifest tonight in television close-ups seeking signs of stress in the Italian.

Mancini anticipates more noise around his own club's pursuit of the title than United, because it is such a story after 44 years.

The source of fascination is how well equipped Mancini is to deal with the scrutiny. He summarily quit the Internazionale job in the Anfield press room, after a defeat in 2008, and showed in his response to Carlos Tevez's conduct at Bayern Munich in October that his emotions can take over.

"Roberto's mentality and desire is to win," said Platt, who played with Mancini for two years at Sampdoria. "He has full belief that we will win every football match. He's a perfectionist.

"People can talk about his character and his reaction, the TV cameras might be on him, but he's no different now than he was a month ago or six months ago in the FA Cup Final -- or when he was a player.

"Roberto knows what it takes to go the distance. He's quite relaxed at this moment in time. Nobody's turning round and saying we've won (the title) now or (that we will have done) if we win the next two games. We fully expect the teams that are up there to continue to win games. Nobody's going to hand it to us."

(© Independent News Service)

Wigan v Manchester City,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Irish Independent