Manuel Pellegrini faced the press this afternoon at Carrington ahead of Sunday’s crucial match at the Etihad against Chelsea. City know a defeat will see them slip eight points behind the early leaders and favourites for the title.
A win, though, and City will find themselves two points behind the west London side having played three of last season’s top four. There’s no doubt this one is key.
The form of Yaya Toure dominated the press conference, with his poor performance in Munich on Wednesday leading to question marks about his commitment and attitude. His embrace with Pep Guardiola at the end of the match, which has been completely overplayed by City fans and journalists alike, was seen as indicative of his poor attitude, but Pellegrini, as expected, was fierce on his defence of the Ivorian.
No, I don’t think it is fair to criticise what Yaya did in the last game. I think that, in this team, my way of thinking, normally when we win or lose it is because all the team did well or bad. Everyone knows which is his best performance of all the players and we are trying to reach that best performance. I don’t agree Yaya has all the responsibility about the game we played.
Yaya always has commitment with the team and the squad and with his mates and he doesn’t have any problems about that.
The concerns are about the performance of the team. Maybe we were very unlucky to lose that game in the last minute with a very unpredictable goal but I think as a team we can play better. That is why every week I try to improve what we do as a team.
Yaya’s performance was poor – there’s little doubt about that – but there is a tendency amongst City’s supporters to be somewhat harsh on the midfielder. Let’s not forget this is a man who has scored some of the most important goals in the club’s recent history and who always seems to perform in the big matches, certainly domestically. It seems mad to turn on him in such frenzied style after just a few games of the season, particularly after last season where he scored 23 goals and was arguably City’s best player.
Chelsea’s form has led to many pundits almost handing them the title now, but Pellegrini looked bullish at Carrington, suggesting he feels his side are well capable of getting a result. Once again the press tried to push his rivalry with Jose Mourinho, but, true to for, the Chilean was having none of it.
Every time you ask me the same question when we play against Mourinho. I don’t have any problem with him. This profession, we manage in different ways and nothing more. Nothing important.
They [Chelsea] started very good. They are playing very well also. I think that we didn’t start bad, maybe the game we lost here against Stoke that was an unusual game, but we hope we recover here playing at home and get three points on Sunday.
Stevan Jovetic and Fernando remain out, two big blows for City. Fernando, in particular, was signed to give City extra solidity in the big games, and the frustratingly he has been missing for the three games against top sides this week.
Jovetic and Fernando continue with problems. Edin Dzeko has a problem in his back after the game but I hope he will be okay for Sunday. All the other players are okay.
Pellegrini certainly feels Sergio Aguero could be key for his side, particularly after being rested for the game in Munich on Wednesday. When he’s fully fit, there’s little doubt he’s one of the most fearsome and prolific strikers in Europe, and after sitting out the defeat earlier in the week, Pellegrini seemed hopeful he could have a big part to play.
Maybe Sergio in this moment is not ready to play three games in a row, just in one week, 90 minutes, that is why I thought it was better for him and the squad not to play 90 minutes against Bayern. He is fresh for Sunday and I am sure he will make a difference.
I think that not only important matches. I think Sergio always makes a difference when he is 100 percent fit. I don’t know which matches are not important. All have the same importance because all are three points but Sergio makes a difference when he is 100 percent fit.
As usual, Pellegrini appeared calm. It’ll be tough for us fans to be the same given the importance of this one. A win is absolutely vital, even at this stage of the season.
written by Rob Pollard