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What They Said: Mancini allays Toure FA Cup final fear

ESPN staff
May 4, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
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Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini revealed Yaya Toure reported a fitness problem in the warm-up for Saturday's clash with Swansea, leading to his half-time substitution.

City drew 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium, and the withdrawal of Toure sparked fears over his availability for the FA Cup final, which takes place in a week's time. However, Mancini said the problem was only precautionary.

"Yaya had a problem in the warm-up and he was not 100 per cent," he said. "We had a big problem in the middle to stop their counter attack. We took him off because we didn't want to take a risk for the next game."

As for the performance of his side, who missed a hatful of chances including a contender for miss of the season from Edin Dzeko, Mancini confessed his displeasure with the performance of his attackers.

"In the second half we missed some incredible chances," he said. "We had five chances to score - two in the first half and three in the second. In the second half we dominated this game so I am happy with the performance but unhappy with the goal we are missing."

Michael Laudrup was left wondering if Swansea will be awarded a penalty all season after Michu saw a strong appeal rejected at the Liberty Stadium.

"I thought it was a penalty when I saw it from the bench," he said. "Now looking at it after the game, it was a huge penalty. It's a little curious. We have played 35 games in the league and not even one penalty. Maybe next time. [But] a draw with the champions from last season means we can still reach that target of a top-10 finish and I think that would be fantastic."

Andre Villas-Boas was full of praise for Gareth Bale, not for the first time this season, after the Welshman inspired Tottenham to three crucial points against former side Southampton in a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane. The win put Spurs level on points with Chelsea having played a game more.

"Again, it was decided by a great moment of individual brilliance," Villas-Boas said. "We kept on pushing and Gareth played in three different positions today - as striker, then on the left and on the right to try and get the best out of him. He is enjoying his football, but Southampton dealt with him very, very well and were very organised. But in the last gasp, they conceded a little bit more space, probably because we wore them out a little bit in the second half and we managed to get the winner."

Mauricio Pochettino rued missed opportunities for Southampton, and admitted the club do not fear relegation - despite being winless in four games and four points clear of the drop zone.

"We just have to get points from the next two games," he said. "We tried with everything we had and we weren't able to do it but competing the way we did and to perform the way we performed I don't think we will be in that battle or have problems. I think it was a cruel defeat because we did enough not only just to draw but to win the game. We were lacking that little bit of luck in football you need to succeed."

Paul Lambert pin-pointed Aston Villa's embarrassing Capital One Cup exit to Bradford as the turning point in their relegation battle, after a Gabriel Agbonlahor brace helped them beat Norwich 2-1 to move to 40 points.

Yaya Toure should be fit for the FA Cup final against Wigan © Getty Images
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"I think we have been playing really well after the Bradford thing, when we started to get to grips with it," Lambert said. "I think we have played very well of late. If you look at the form, it's extremely high at the minute, it's probably in the top half. Every big game we have asked them to turn it around, they've done it. I'm proud."

Chris Hughton's Norwich side are in greater danger after defeat left them three points above the drop zone having played one game more than 18th-placed Wigan.

"It's disappointing and frustrating because it's not a game that we should have lost, it's not a game that we deserved to lose," he said. "I thought we were very good in that first-half period, but you know what you are getting with Villa - they have got a lot of pace in their attacks, in their counter. We have conceded two poor goals today. It's very difficult when you do that, it means you have got to score three goals at home."

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew felt his side conveyed there is no disharmony in the dressing room in the goalless draw at West Ham.

"It was a very important performance because there was a lot of myths and reporting that was unfair on us and we had to show that wasn't the case and that we were a strong team and have got spirit in the group," he told Sky Sports.

West Ham first-team coach Neil McDonald backed the officials following their hotly disputed decision not to award a goal when Papiss Cisse's first-half shot was cleared off the line.

"If most of the ball is over the line it has to be all of it, but we thought from replays we saw it was not over the line," he told Sky Sports. "Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't and I suppose Newcastle will be disappointed but we are pleased Winston Reid got back to clear the ball off the line and help keep a clean sheet."

West Brom were beaten 3-2 at home by Wigan, and manager Steve Clarke admitted the visitors were the better side.

"You could tell from the early stages of the game that Wigan were the team that had something really to play for," Clarke said. "But sometimes at this stage of the season that little bit extra mental spark can make a difference. I think that probably helped Wigan get the three points today."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez hailed the character of his team, as the victory means they are two points from safety with three games remaining. "If anything was tested today it was the strong mentality of a very determined side who know exactly what they are doing and keep going till the end," the Spaniard said.

Nigel Adkins collected his maiden victory as Reading manager in a 4-2 win over Fulham, and he said the relegated side must begin to build momentum for next season in the Championship.

"We have to target progression in the final games of the season," he said. "The reality is there has been a change at the club, it is a shame where we are, but we have to keep looking forward."

Martin Jol meanwhile believes Fulham are not safe - even though they have reached 40 points and are five points clear of the bottom three. "Maybe we reached the 40 point mark too soon. In hindsight, if we hadn't, then maybe we would be playing with a little more determination than we are at the moment."

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