| 12.1°C Dublin

Yaya Toure backs City to find strength under pressure

Close

Manchester City's  Yaya Toure says players owe the club’s supporters a historic performance against Barcelona tonight

Manchester City's Yaya Toure says players owe the club’s supporters a historic performance against Barcelona tonight

Getty Images

Manchester City's Yaya Toure says players owe the club’s supporters a historic performance against Barcelona tonight

Yaya Toure last night said Manchester City's players owed the club's Abu Dhabi owners and supporters a historic performance against Barcelona tonight in the match on which Manuel Pellegrini's future may hinge.

Asked if he felt whether the players were responsible for suggestions that Pellegrini would be sacked and whether they felt a duty to help "kill off" those rumours, Toure said: "We all know what we have to do. The owners have spent a lot of money to make this one of the top clubs in Europe. We have had some difficulties but we are working hard.

"It's not the first time we have been in this situation. We'll try to do it for the fans and the club and the people who continue to help us."

The pressure on Pellegrini was remorseless last night, with his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, whose divisive nature led the club to sack him in 2013, claiming that the Chilean had been "lucky" to inherit the squad he had bequeathed him and flatly contradicting his claim that winning a trophy each season was not essential.

Mancini, now manager at Internazionale having been sacked by Galatasaray, told CNN: "Pellegrini was really lucky because he got this team that is a strong team and he had the chance to put inside other good players to improve his team.

"I think Manchester City can win a title every year. I think that City have a chance and they should, they must win a title, try to win a title every year."

Pep Guardiola, who would be City's favoured replacement if Pellegrini leaves, is expected to be at the Nou Camp to see tonight's match, in what would be his first return to the stadium in the three years since he stood down as Barcelona head coach.

In the circumstances, Pellegrini seemed remarkably relaxed as he and Toure gave their press conference, smiling when it was put to him by a Spanish journalist that the Barcelona players' confidence in manager Luis Enrique was greater than the City players' in him.

Close

Manchester City's coach Manuel Pellegrini attends a news conference

Manchester City's coach Manuel Pellegrini attends a news conference

REUTERS

Manchester City's coach Manuel Pellegrini attends a news conference

"You don't know the kind of confidence my players have in me," he said. "You know what football is. You could have asked the question the other way round if we were talking two months ago.

"All teams go through different moments and we will try to do our best with dedication and hard work."

He added: "I want to say there's no such strange atmosphere at Manchester City. I respect all opinions but I don't think my [job] is in danger.

"I don't know what the Catalunian press says but I have one more year left and I'm confident I'm going to finish my contract."

Toure claimed that the pressure on City revealed the short memories in football.

"Last year being brilliant," he said. "Everyone was saying Manchester City are the top team in Europe. All of a sudden we have some problems and we're the worst team in the world. We can deal with that."

City have received five red cards in the Champions League in the past year, including three in three games against Barcelona - one of which has left Gael Clichy suspended for tonight's match.

Rested

Pellegrini admitted that City's hopes rested on avoiding further disciplinary issues. "The most important thing is to play with 11 players," he said.

"Last year we played 40 minutes with one player less, then lost Pablo Zabaleta for 15 minutes in the second game. In the last game we played 20 minutes without a player.

"It is difficult to play against Barcelona with 11 players and almost impossible with 10, so I hope to see 11 v 11 and the best team will qualify."

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said that City's Premier League defeat to Burnley could create an "anxiety" in them. "In a moment like this they could be very dangerous or it could be better for us if it causes some anxiety in them," he said.

He rejected the idea - proposed by Pellegrini in an interview earlier this week - that fatigue could be a factor in City's struggles.

"I don't have that perception. I didn't see City as a tired team … It's about the dynamics sometimes, when the dynamics are not so good maybe they can struggle a bit."

Barca playmaker Andres Iniesta insisted that Barcelona must make City "suffer" in the Nou Camp.

"We will have to play in a comprehensive manner so that they (City) have to suffer and follow the ball," Iniesta said. "We must find our superior skills as much as possible.

"If we don't do this, City can achieve their objective, but we must control the situation as much as possible."

Iniesta added: "City are a very sound team, with high-quality players in all positions and it is a difficult opponent for us to overcome.

"They are very dangerous because of their players. In just one minute, they can turn the result upside down.

"So at all levels, we must be 200 per cent concentrated. We cannot make the mistake, and will not make the mistake, that we have guarantees because of the first-leg scoreline. We need to get the ball, make them run and do all possible to be in the next round."

Barcelona face City before tackling Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday - a sequence which could define the club's season.

But while a draw in both games would strengthen Barcelona's prospects of success in both the Champions League and La Liga, Iniesta insisted that they would not play for a draw in either game.

"You go out to win, especially when playing at home," Iniesta said. "The best thing is to win and we will see tomorrow how the match goes.

"But we know with a draw or win, we will qualify for the next round, so I would sign up for a draw now because it would mean we are in the next round.

"We have to go out to win the match, play as we usually play, and make the most of our opportunities. We will then see what happens. It's obvious you don't need to risk as much after getting a good first-leg result, but it is very difficult to predict what will happen.

"As for Sunday, we have to think about the City game first because if we don't play well, they have players up front who can change a match on their own." (© Independent News Service)

Barcelona v Manchester City,

Live, RTE2/Sky Sports 5, 7.45

Irish Independent