Manuel Pellegrini fired up his Manchester City players prior to the game with West Ham by telling them Manchester United had beaten Southampton.
City defender Micah Richards suggests the tactic helped Pellegrini’s side to a 3-1 win over the Hammers, as reported by Darren Lewis of the Mirror:
We thought they [Manchester United] were winning one nil. The manager said they had won, Arsenal had won and Chelsea had won, and so we had to win.
Maybe it was a bit of reverse psychology but it was obviously nice. United will come strong.
Pellegrini’s decision is the kind of smart thinking that will help to usher his squad away from complacency. United's 1-1 draw with Mauricio Pochettino's side will have undoubtedly lifted City spirits after victory was captured in London.
Sergio Aguero’s brace and a goal from David Silva ousted Sam Allardyce’s men at the Boleyn Ground, granting City their first away win of the Premier League season.
City currently occupy fourth in the domestic table, and are three points behind leaders Arsenal and five ahead of Manchester United. Pellegrini has picked up 16 points in eight games, as recorded by Who Scored, and finally helped the club overcome two consecutive away defeats with the much-needed victory at West Ham.
Although Richards believes local rivals United should not be discounted, he also suggests Arsenal’s recent run of form will be difficult to halt, per Lewis’ report: "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."
The Gunners are unbeaten in 12 games since losing to Aston Villa on Aug. 17, per Who Scored, and recently impressed with a 4-1 win over Norwich.
Arsene Wenger’s team are playing the kind of slick, free-flowing football that saw City win the title in 2011-12, which is something Pellegrini will be looking to replicate with his expensive squad.
Manchester City’s win over West Ham was Richards’ first Premier League start of the season.
The versatile defender—who recently made fun of his injury problems with a prank, via Graeme Yorke of the Daily Mail—will be looking to re-establish himself in Pellegrini’s starting XI, especially as he now has a place in England’s 2014 World Cup squad to fight for.
With Pablo Zabaleta currently sitting ahead of Richards in the City pecking order, aspirations of a summer trip to Brazil could be some way off for the 25-year-old, but Richards made a good start with his display at West Ham.