Pellegrini: I knew all about the Pep deal

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES/ REUTERS

LONDON • Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has dismissed suggestions that Pep Guardiola was manoeuvred into the club behind his back.

The Chilean said yesterday he was not kept in the dark as the Bayern Munich manager was ushered into the City hot seat.

Guardiola agreed a three-year contract with City this week and will begin work ahead of next season.

"It's important for everyone to know that I knew what was happening and that no one was doing anything behind my back," Pellegrini said. "It's important to talk about this season and not the next one."

His immediate concern is today's encounter at the Etihad Stadium, where his side can overhaul surprise challengers Leicester City at the Premier League summit with a win.

Defeat, however, would not spell the end of City's hopes of winning a third title in the last five seasons, Pellegrini said.

"It's not the biggest game of the season so far - we can win or lose this game and the Premier League will not end here," added the Chilean.

"We have 39 more points to fight for. You cannot think you're champion if you win and if you lose, there are lots more points. It's a good game, a big game but not decisive."

City's home supporters will today have their first opportunity to begin a drawn-out farewell to Pellegrini.

Before Monday's announcement regarding Guardiola, it appeared this game would be all about first place in the table and the displays of City's Sergio Aguero and Leicester's Jamie Vardy, two of the division's most in-form strikers.

But Pellegrini, who received a rapturous response from City supporters during Tuesday's victory at Sunderland, looks sure to dominate proceedings today when he appears before his home crowd for the first time since his departure was confirmed.

There had been speculation that City's decision not to renew the Chilean's contract when it expires later this year might unsettle a team still pushing for honours on four fronts.

But City's assured performance at Sunderland suggested otherwise and that ability to concentrate on the game ahead, rather than focusing too far into the future, is what will see them through the campaign, according to defender Gael Clichy.

"We need to make ourselves hard to beat and that's what we did," he said. "Three points are three points - what we're trying to do is take every game as it comes and see how it goes."

While all eyes on the field will be on Aguero and Vardy, Pellegrini must decide whether another exciting forward, Nigerian youngster Kelechi Iheanacho, will keep his place after an FA Cup hat-trick at Aston Villa last week and a rare start against Sunderland.

Aguero suffered an injury to his calf when scoring the winning goal at Sunderland, but he is expected to be fit, while midfielder Fabian Delph is close to a return from a minor calf injury of his own.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Pellegrini: I knew all about the Pep deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe