Fernandinho has urged Manchester City to remain ruthless in their pursuit of the Premier League title — which they could seal against Manchester United.
City went 16 points clear at the top of the table with just eight games left in the league season following a 2-0 win away to Stoke on Monday.
Pep Guardiola’s men now need a maximum of three more wins to make sure of lifting the trophy but two will do the trick if one of them comes against cross-city rivals United.
Should City defeat Everton on March 31, they could clinch the title with a win at home in the Manchester derby on April 7.
“We cannot deny we are close to winning the league but we have to keep working and keep focused, as we did since the first day, (going) game by game, step by step,” said City midfielder Fernandinho.
“By working hard every day, every week, every game we are going to go get there,” the Brazilian added.
For all Stoke’s reputation as a hostile venue for opposition teams, City were rarely tested on Monday, a goal in each half from David Silva securing victory.
“Of course it is a tough place to come and play good football but we did it,” said Fernandinho. “We are happy for that and one more step to the title.”
His comments echoed those of City manager Guardiola, who was unconcerned as to when his side won the title as long as they did indeed win it.
“Everybody is always asking this question,” said Guardiola. “But the important thing is on March 12, we have 81 points, that is a lot of points.
“We want to be champions. We need three wins, but we are able to do it with two (if City beat United).“
He added: “But before and after United, we have the (Champions League) quarter-finals, and at the moment that is the most important thing to focus on.
“I understand for the fans, okay, but the important thing is to be champions. When and where it doesn’t matter.”