City players should win the EPL for Pellegrini, says Gary Lim
City players owe it to Chilean to deliver perfect parting gift - the league title
MAN CITY v LEICESTER CITY
(Tonight, 8.45pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
Finally, the speculation has come to a rest.
Manuel Pellegrini will leave Manchester City at the end of the season, to make way for Pep Guardiola as widely expected.
The one thing you can be sure of is that the Chilean will be leaving with his dignity intact.
The one thing he wants to make sure of, however, is to leave with the perfect parting gift - the English Premier League title.
The 62-year-old has a chance to take a big step towards winning the league crown tonight, when Man City take on Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Victory will take the Citizens past the Foxes to the top of the table on goal difference, with a third of the season remaining.
More than that, victory will be a quiet triumph for a well-respected man who has performed his job with exemplary professionalism under incredible distractions.
His team mirrored that same quality a day after the announcement of Guardiola's impending arrival, when they carved out a 1-0 away win over Sunderland on Tuesday to keep the pressure on league leaders Leicester.
Fullback Gael Clichy offered a touch of sympathy for the City boss when he said after the win: "Today, it was for Pellegrini."
But the man with the second-best Premiership record after 100 games - his 65 wins are bettered by only Jose Mourinho with 73 - isn't one to feel sorry for himself.
It's all about getting the job done for a club he openly professes his love for.
DEAD MAN WALKING
It is why there has never been an utterance of displeasure at the way he has been treated at the club, despite being a "dead man walking" for the majority of his stay in the blue half of Manchester.
Pellegrini is experienced enough to know that football is a heartless business.
He will also be wily enough to know that Claudio Ranieri's men won't be sitting ducks tonight.
Leicester's stamina in the title race has shocked many.
But, back in December, Pellegrini had already warned that the Foxes are genuine title contenders.
In their final game of 2015, Man City travelled to the King Power Stadium and could do nothing more than return with a goalless draw.
Leicester's 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday, courtesy of a brace from the 18-goal Jamie Vardy, the Premier League's top scorer, proves that they are not going to give up on the title without a fight.
The Foxes play with a passion and drive not many in the top tier can rival.
The goals plundered by Vardy and created by Riyad Mahrez provide the thrust for their title bid.
Pellegrini has the right tools to meet the resistance.
He has Sergio Aguero, who has scored 12 goals in his last 10 league games, to rival Vardy's efficiency.
He also has Raheem Sterling on the steering wheel and David Silva manning the gear stick.
It won't be straightforward.
It never is when the Premiership's best home team (28 points) take on the top away side (25 points).
But, if City players are hell-bent on doing it for Pellegrini, then that could prove to be the difference between two evenly matched sides.
It's the least he deserves.
"Man City have too many dangerous players. You can play a perfect match, but they’ll win because they have magicians. We want to win too, so it’s open. Both teams want to win, so maybe it’ll be a draw!" - Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri (above)
- PHOTO: REUTERS
BY THE NUMBERS
9: Manchester City are unbeaten in their last nine matches against Leicester in all competitions (five wins, four draws). The Foxes' last win over the Citizens was in the Premier League in 2003.