Micah Richards has revealed to the Daily Mirror that Manuel Pellegrini inspired his Manchester City players to victory at West Ham on Saturday by lying about Manchester United’s result.
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The City manager told his team that United -- who actually conceded a late equaliser -- had beaten Southampton, so when they played in a later kick-off at Upton Park, they had to defeat the Hammers to ensure they remained ahead of their rivals.
Sergio Aguero hit two and David Silva scored once as City went on to record their first Premier League away win under Pellegrini, allowing the club to extend their advantage over United to five points.
“We thought they were winning 1-0. The manager said they had won, Arsenal had won and Chelsea had won, and so we had to win,” Richards said.
“Maybe it was a bit of reverse psychology but it was obviously nice. United will come strong.
"We just knew we had to win. If we had dropped points today, well... we watched Liverpool because they kicked off early.”
City now sit fourth in the Premier League table, three points behind leaders Arsenal, and Richards believes the Gunners have a good chance of retaining their lead over the coming weeks.
“They looked strong and Arsenal just keep winning,” he said. “I know people always say Arsenal will blow up, but when a team gets that confidence going it’s hard to stop and they will do well this season."
But despite United having lost Sir Alex Ferguson, who won 13 league titles during his reign, Richards is refusing to rule them out of the race for the Premier League.
“They still have the same players,” he said. “They have massive experience and experienced players around who will get them going. So I have no doubt that United will come back stronger from this.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, Fergie is probably the best manager ever. He’s probably like having a 12th man in your team. But [David] Moyes is a great manager. He’s done a similar job at Everton, he didn’t have that much to spend and he kept them consistently playing well.
“It will be hard for them, losing Fergie, but I think in time, Moyes will get it right because he is a fantastic manager.”