Mourinho’s Chelsea drew level with second-placed City in the Barclays Premier League standings with a 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Monday but afterwards said they were still third favourites behind them and Arsenal. Pellegrini brushed off that suggestion by pointing out that Chelsea have been one of the one of heaviest spenders of recent times. Press Association “It is the way he acts. Everyone acts the way he thinks is better for the team. “I think it will be very close with Chelsea and Arsenal. Arsenal are the favourites because they have two points’ lead in the table. “Of the 24 games we have played, Arsenal have been top of the table for 16 or 17. They have an important advantage. “I am sure the three will fight to the end for the title.” City remain above Chelsea on goal difference and will hope to hold off their challenge, and respond to Monday’s setback, with victory at Norwich this weekend. City thrashed the Canaries 7-0 when the sides met at Eastlands in November but Pellegrini expects a different game this time. “It’s a very difficult game, it is very important the way the team reacts after the defeat at home,” said Pellegrini, whose efforts in January have earned him a second successive manager of the month award. “We play against a good team in Norwich, a team that tries to play, so we hope that we can win again. “It will be absolutely different. They will want revenge for what happened here in Etihad. “They have a good team that play good football, it is very important for us to continue playing the same way we are doing away because the last four games we won all of them.” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has hit back at Jose Mourinho’s claim that Chelsea are the “little horse” in the title race. The Chilean said: “Maybe it is a small horse if the manager thinks like that. It can be a little horse, but very rich. “This is the team that has spent most money in the last 10 years, is the team that spent most money this year and the team that spent the most money in the transfer window. So, little – but rich.” It was a strong counter-reaction from Pellegrini, coming soon after Mourinho also spoke about the “dodgy” attitude some clubs – possibly City – had towards financial fair play. It was also the first time Pellegrini had responded this season to Mourinho, with whom he has a perceived rivalry dating back to when the Portuguese succeeded him at Real Madrid in 2010. In previous weeks he has refused to engage in the apparent mind games of the Stamford Bridge chief. Mourinho went on to say on Monday that City remain the title favourites, but Pellegrini insists Chelsea – after beating the Citizens twice this term – cannot be written off. Pellegrini said: “He has shown in the last two games (against us) he has a strong team with some great players. “I think he is favourite. He thinks if he wins he will have the merits but if he loses he does not have responsibility.
Published on January 30, 2017 at 12:21 am Winning is better than losing. Having fun is better than not. But when fans rushed the Carrier Dome floor on Saturday afternoon, it didn’t reflect a program that has reached two Final Fours in the past four seasons.The Orange had just beaten No. 6 Florida State by 10 points. SU hadn’t beaten a Top 25 team all season. It finally checked off a marquee win from its season-long to-do list. Students among the crowd of 24,798 led a rush onto the court named after the coach who built this program.After the game, Jim Boeheim himself said he had no problems with fans storming the court. It’s college basketball. It’s 18- to 22-year-olds. It’s supposed to be fun, and perhaps it was. But respectable teams expect to win home games.“It’s better than when we get beat and they all go home at halftime,” Boeheim said, “So yeah, I like that better.”But it’s also better to be good enough to inspire just a little hope for a fan base that has little else to do in wintertime than fawn over its squad. But it hasn’t done that this season. With a record five nonconference losses leading to SU’s worst 20-game start under Boeheim, Syracuse (13-9, 5-4 Atlantic Coast) had fallen to a new low.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange opened the season ranked No. 19, reloaded with two graduate transfers and well-regarded freshmen. Boeheim told ESPN it would be the best team he’s had in years. Yet at SU’s media day on Oct. 18, he tempered expectations (“When you start talking, ‘You got to go to the Final Four,’ it’s really foolish”) and fans have eventually followed suit.Losses to South Carolina and Wisconsin dropped Syracuse out of the Top 25. A two-point loss to Connecticut and a seven-point loss to Georgetown played the role of gravity for sky-high expectations. And it even got worse. The Orange suffered its worst home loss under Boeheim to St. John’s and then, two games later, allowed 96 points to Boston College for the Eagles first ACC win in almost two years.Rock bottom.So, against Florida State on Saturday, with about 10 minutes remaining, a fan approached Otto’s Army president Johnny Oliver asking if fans would storm the court for a team that was in the Final Four nine months prior.That catastrophic fall of SU’s season had lowered fan expectations below what a program like Syracuse basketball normally commands. This isn’t the football team, which upset No. 17 Virginia Tech and spurred fans to rush the field. That team hasn’t been nationally ranked since 2001. Boeheim has had his team ranked at least once in all 41 seasons except one.Fans waited all summer and fall for their re-tooled basketball team to follow up its dramatic postseason run. They wanted more reasons to cheer. But the mixture of anticipation, disappointment and lowered expectation created a mindset that led to a basketball school storming the floor after winning by 10 against a football school.For the bottled-up fans, the cork popped.“I don’t know if they should have (court-stormed) or not,” redshirt forward Matthew Moyer tweeted, “but all I know is it was lit.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Oliver didn’t storm the court himself, but recognized that whatever energizes fans is a good thing. But the consequence is that it shows your diminished standards.“If I magically controlled every student,” Oliver said, “we wouldn’t have stormed. Because I do subscribe a little bit to the thought that we are supposed to be a top-tier program, not only in the ACC but across the nation.”Syracuse has beaten a top-10 team every season dating back to 2006-07. It’s a program that, despite only winning one national title, has reached more Final Fours than all but 12 schools. One rough stretch this season has soured all of that. Now, fans revel in what used to be expected.And there’s nothing wrong that. I’m not saying don’t storm the court. If you want to, fine. It’s nice that students are excited, sure. You only get four years in college.“If you had told me before the season started,” Oliver said, “that we’d beat Florida State by 10 at home and we would storm the court, I probably would have thought you were an insane person.”Paul Schwedelson is a senior staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or @pschweds. Comments