Football: City not distracted by Guardiola arrival, focused on quadruple quest, says Pellegrini

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini during the English Premier League match against Sunderland.
Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini during the English Premier League match against Sunderland. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini does not believe that the impending arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City will overshadow the English club's four-pronged quest for silverware this season.

Tuesday's 1-0 win at Sunderland gave the Chilean manager a 65th Premier League victory in 100 games, a ratio bettered only by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who won 73 of his first 100 English top-flight matches.

But it will not prevent him being replaced at the end of the season by Guardiola and Monday's announcement dominated his post-match press conference after a win that kept City three points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City, whom they host on Saturday.

Pellegrini's defence under pressure from the press was as impressive as England goalkeeper Joe Hart's had been in preserving City's lead at the Stadium of Light.

Refuting the suggestion that Guardiola's appointment might be a distraction for City, who remain in contention for league, Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup honours, he said: "The announcement was not on my mind - only having a good season ahead of the next game against Leicester.

"I want to do well in all competitions and all I was focused on was getting the three points. We are all thinking about this season rather than the next."

A 16th-minute goal from Sergio Aguero and a superb display by Hart, who pulled off a double save in the first half, proved to be the difference between the two sides.

But Pellegrini, whose name was sung by the travelling fans, was at pains to point out that it had been a collective effort and that City's players had shown they have steel to their game, as well as silk.

"The most important thing for the team was to come here and win this game," he said. "We are known as an attacking team, but we showed we can defend, too."

City's performance answered the question of how they would react to the Guardiola announcement, and the battling nature of their win bodes well for the run-in.

When Guardiola was announced as Bayern Munich manager in January 2013, Jupp Heynckes' side went on to win the treble. Pellegrini may yet leave this summer as City's most successful manager.

Hart vowed that the players would do everything they can for their outgoing manager. "We're here to win titles, Manuel's here to win titles," he said. "We back him, we love him as our manager."

Defender Gael Clichy also declared his support for Pellegrini.

Asked if he is excited about Guardiola's appointment, the Frenchman told the BBC: "I can assure you the only excitement we have was to win the game today.

"It is big news, I think the club did what they felt was needed. As a player, you play for the fans, the chairman, the manager and yourself. Today, it was for Pellegrini."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'City focused on quadruple quest'. Print Edition | Subscribe