Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he is not under pressure at the Etihad Stadium, despite under-fire terms for the Chilean boss starting to increase fter a less-than-convincing start to the season.
The reigning English Premier League champions have lost two of their opening nine league matches so far this season and have again made a faltering in their UEFA Champions’ League campaign of this term.
Midweek saw them dumped out of the English Capital One Cup by fellow league side Newcastle United, whom City won against in their opening league fixture of this season 2-0, after they had won the knockout competition last season as well.
Critical days now come for Pellegrini and his men as city rivals Manchester United visit Eastlands on Sunday in a English Premier League clash, a Manchester derby, before they play a crucial Champions’ League clash with CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, and more questions will be asked of Pellegrini and his methods if they suffer further damage in those two fixtures but the Chilean claims not to be aware of any pressure.
The 61-year-old, who is renowned for his calmness, said: “I don’t know what pressure (there is). I think it is very difficult to analyse the season when it is just in October, when you have just played nine Premier League games and you don’t know whether or not you are going to qualify in the Champions League.”
“It is the reality that we are eliminated from the Capital One Cup – but last year we were the only (title-contending) team to continue in the Capital One, so maybe the other teams will have more difficulties this season when they have to play so many games.”
City have not won in their last three games, having drawn at CSKA Moscow after leading 2-2 and then losing a league match to West Ham United prior to the Newcastle cup defeat.
The team are clearly not producing the performances that swept numerous opponents aside last season but Pellegrini is dismissive of suggestions rival managers have worked them out.
“I don’t agree with you that they know how we play,” said Pellegrini at his press conference to preview the derby.
“I normally think that the players’ performance in that (particular) game makes the difference.”
And because of that, Pellegrini has no intention of abandoning his attacking principles, and points to the experience of last season when, like now, they trailed the Premier League leaders by six points and turned the situation around.
He said: “If I go (back) one year, it was exactly the same. Around the end of October, we had the same questions, and I answered the same way.”
“It is the way we must play. We will continue doing the same way.”
Pellegrini insists he can be flexible, and often does vary tactics within games, to find the right formula. He has no doubt his side’s class will eventually shine through.
He said: “We are always making different changes, not only in names but also in the way we play.”
“If you review the last games, during the games, I always made some changes to try and improve the performance in defending and attacking.”:
“But I think that always you have better moments and bad moments. It’s normal. It’s not good to do it, but normally all the teams have a moment in the season when they are not at their best. It’s important (for it) to be at the beginning of the season, not at the end of the season.”
“I am sure that our team will be again the strong team that we were in the second half of last year.”
“We continue with our target to try to defend our title, to try to continue in the Champions League. Maybe last year we did better in the Capital One but maybe this year we can win the FA Cup.”
A further blow to City comes as their in-form playmaker David Silva has been ruled out for around three weeks after picking up a knee injury in the early stages of the Newcastle cup loss on Wednesday.
“David has a problem in his ligament. Maybe he will be out around three weeks, so he will not be available for the derby,” said Pellegrini.
“He is a very important player but I always say the same thing, we have a squad and we have to replace him with another player.”
“I think we are a team, and in that team we need top players in top performance always, because that is the best way to play.”