Manchester City aim to end Everton hoodoo
Roberto Mancini admits he is as puzzled as anyone by Everton holding the Indian sign over his high-flying Manchester City side. The City manager has seen his side lose the last three games against Everton, including falling to a rare home defeat when they crashed 2-1 in December. It's a sorry record that needs to be halted on Saturday if the mega-rich club want to continue their charge for Champions League football next season.
Roberto Mancini admits he is as puzzled as anyone by Everton holding the Indian sign over his high-flying Manchester City side.
The City manager has seen his side lose the last three games against Everton, including falling to a rare home defeat when they crashed 2-1 in December.
It's a sorry record that needs to be halted on Saturday if the mega-rich club want to continue their charge for Champions League football next season.
But failing to end their hoodoo at Goodison Park could see their lead cut and, with rivals Tottenham still to face City, the race for qualification for Europe's premier cup competition could yet take on a fresh twist.
But Mancini believes four more points would be good enough to guarantee their top-four finish and has urged his side to finish the job off.
"We need four points. That should be enough for us," he said.
"We know it will be a difficult game and it's important we play very well against Everton if we what to end that run.
"It's always difficult for us, but we want to change that.
"Sometimes it can happen and there's no reason why one team always win. You can't explain it but we want to change that record now.
"Against Everton in December we started the game slowly. We had a few injures and they scored a couple of early goals. That put us on the backfoot - it's as simple as that.
"We have improved since then but it will be very hard and we will have to be ready to fight."
Mancini admits the next period of the season, with an FA Cup final against Stoke looming, will shape their season.
"The next 10 days are very important to us. We need to finish this job off well," he said.
"We have an FA Cup final and we have a big chance to get in the Champions League. That was the target and we have worked very hard for this."
Mancini has admitted it will be impossible for Carlos Tevez to play in the Wembley final on May 14 if he cannot play some part in next week's Premier League clash with Tottenham.
Tevez has been out with a hamstring injury for almost four weeks and is certain to miss the trip to Merseyside.
The Argentine striker has so far managed to do only light training and has a 50 per cent chance of featuring in the club's bid to end a 35-year await for silverware.
"It is very difficult for him to play against Everton and if he doesn't play against Tottenham, it will be impossible for Carlos to play in the final. He has a 50 per cent chance," he said.
Everton captain Phil Neville has urged the Everton fans not to give Joleon Lescott a rough ride as the former Toffees defender returns to Goodison Park for the first time since his acrimonious move to Manchester City two seasons ago.
The England defender went from hero to villain with the Everton supporters when he handed in a transfer request shortly before the start of the 2009/10 season.
His attitude was subsequently criticised by his manager David Moyes, who had been determined to hang onto a defender he transformed into one of the best in the top-flight.
The uncertainty of Lescott's £22million departure caused Moyes' pre-season plans to be damaged and left a dark cloud hanging over Everton's early season form.
But Neville hopes the home crowd focus their vocal efforts solely on cheering on his team-mates rather than jeering an opposition player ahead of his expected hostile reception.
"I want the Everton fans to go easy on Joleon," Neville said.
"He played for the club in a magical era and helped us to an FA Cup Final. He left in bad circumstances, but he is a good defender."