As is its wont, the Guardian (via Nick Miller) recently poked some fun at Manchester City and their manager Manuel Pellegrini for what Miller deemed to be premature jocularity on Pellegrini's part in advance of City's potential Premier League title clincher with West Ham United:
Pellegrini has saddled up Hubris the Wonderhorse, fed him a few cubes of pride sugar and is riding him straight towards Big Sam (Allardyce)'s lot, confident they will provide all the resistance of a bungee cord made of candy floss, and like good old sports simply step aside and allow City [to] win the title with a flourish.
In Miller's coda, he added sarcastically that Pellegrini must believe that the "good team is going to beat the bad team. It always, always, always happens. Without exception. Every time."
The quotes attributed to Pellegrini that Miller found so obnoxious and prideful included the following: "Now we can talk about the title because if we win the next game we are going to win it. We could not do the same before this game because we had to beat Aston Villa."
Yeah, based on Miller's florid takedown of Pellegrini, I was expecting more edge from Pellegrini's words, too.
But even if Pellegrini had addressed the press after City beat Villa in their penultimate league match by saying that City were going to eviscerate West Ham and that the second half would be little more than a 45-minute victory lap, City supporters should take heart.
Pellegrini's confidence is perfectly appropriate and the exact right message to send his side as they prepare to do the job against a West Ham side that is woefully outgunned.
City supporters, who by now—given the Sky Blues' spooky history—throw salt over their left shoulders every time an opponent sneezes in the direction of City's goal, probably would have preferred some milquetoast babble from Pellegrini after the win over Villa.
They would have preferred that Pellegrini go out of his way to stress how tough West Ham are, how the title is not won until the last whistle sounds and so forth. That is the safe play.
It also flies in the face of recent and not-so-recent evidence.
City have played three matches against West Ham this season and scored 12 times. The Hammers have scored once against City. This domination is not even a hammer hitting a nail; it is a grown man projecting sunlight through a magnifying glass into an anthill.
And this is not a frail City side who are limping to the finish line, either. Here is City's form in their last 1- Premier League outings, recent to past: WWWWDLWDWW.
The only loss in those 10 was to Liverpool at Anfield; since that win, Liverpool have dropped points in two of their following three league matches.
City only need a draw against the Hammers to win the league. In their last 10 matches, they have lost once and the loss came at the league's second-placed side's home park.
Right, so nothing is guaranteed. Tell that to the bookies who, per Oddschecker.com, can only find touts to give you 1-to-50 on City to win the league as of this writing. Those are not odds, they are a "go away" sign.
So Pellegrini is well within his prerogative to talk up his squad's chance to win the league. The task is known, his team is playing very well and the opponent is not among the league's elite.
Word-mincing by Pellegrini at this stage would have been a waste of time. Everybody knows what is going on here. If City botch this final match, they will in all likelihood lose the league title. Deservedly.
If City cannot take care of their business at home against moribund, no-account West Ham with the league trophy in the building waiting to be awarded, then City do not deserve to be champions anyway.
Pellegrini knows this and is willing to talk about winning the title anyway. He's not afraid.
His side should not be afraid, either.
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