STOKE-ON-TRENT: David Platt insisted Roberto Mancini will not be affected by mind games as the chase for the Premier League title reaches its climax.
Mancini was furious after Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at Stoke, despite Yaya Toure’s equaliser hoisting his team back to the Premier League summit on goal difference from Manchester United.
The City boss refused to shake the hand of Stoke manager Tony Pulis after the game and also declined to carry out any post-match interviews.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had sniped at their bitter rivals by claiming bringing back Carlos Tevez smacked of desperation, but first-team coach Platt is convinced the Italian can handle the psychological warfare.
“What are mind games? At the end of the day the team who wins the league will be said to have won the mind games,” said Platt. “The be-all and end-all is about 11 players going out on the pitch and getting results.
“Words don’t win leagues. The issue of why we’re not pulling clear in the title race is that both teams have done well. The fact we’re not pulling away is down to United having a good season.
“It’s not a case of Mancini being too angry as such, I think he’s just worried he might say something that gets him in hot water. It was really about the way the game unfolded.”
Toure’s spectacular equaliser spared Mancini from a costly defeat in the title race to take City above United on goal difference, with Ferguson’s men entertaining Fulham today.
Bolton record special win
Elsewhere, Bolton paid tribute to stricken star Fabrice Muamba with a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Blackburn.
Two first-half headers from David Wheater settled the game in Bolton’s favour with Steven Nzonzi getting on the scoresheet for Blackburn.
“In a football context it’s a great end to the week to get three points but the perfect end will be for Fabrice to come out of that hospital better,” said Bolton boss Owen Coyle.
“Our thoughts are still with him. He’s not only a footballer and a colleague to those players in the dressing room but an outstanding young man.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal tightened their grip on third place with a comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa — the Gunners’ seventh victory in a row.
Liverpool’s slim hopes of a top four finish were effectively extinguished after Kenny Dalglish’s men suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Wigan at Anfield.
Queens Park Rangers, who stunned Liverpool 3-2, were brought down to earth after an emphatic 3-1 loss at Sunderland. Meanwhile, Wolves remain rooted to the foot of the table after a 2-1 defeat to Norwich at Carrow Road and Everton ended a run of two consecutive defeats with a 2-0 win at form team Swansea.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2012.