Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini does not believe Sunday’s derby against Manchester United will have a decisive impact on the Premier League title race.
City make the short journey to Old Trafford for the 170th edition of the fixture with a slender two-point advantage over their rivals at the summit, with United behind Arsenal on goal difference.
While Pellegrini appreciates the importance of the game in terms of tackling a close rival with local passions running high, he is more interested in proving that the club he led to the league title in 2013-14 are the best in England over the long haul.
“It’s an important three points and I always say it’s a six-pointer because you’re playing the team behind you,” he told a news conference. “But it will not be a game that will decide the title.
“For the city it’s always a special game. It’s very important for both sets of fans to win, and for both to demonstrate who is the best team in the city.
“Of course we are involved in the same situation, and it’s very important as a team to win this derby because it’s a special game for fans.”
He added: “Maybe, the most exciting thing for everyone is to win the title.
“If you win against a team of the same city or another team, for some people it can be better.
“For me, the most important thing is to demonstrate that you are the best team.”
Pellegrini offered his support to Manchester City fans who chose to boo the Champions League anthem ahead of Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over Sevilla, after UEFA launched a much criticised investigation into the incident.
“For me, the fans pay for their ticket and they are free to express themselves with how they feel with order and respect,” he said.