Pellegrini pleased erratic City are still in the running

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that Manchester City's inconsistency in the first half of the campaign would have ruled them out of the English Premier League title race in any ordinary season.

City are third in the table on 36 points, three behind Arsenal and Leicester City at the halfway point. It is, in Pellegrini's words, "a good position" going into the second half of the season, but it represents a significantly lower points total than they had accrued at the same stage in previous years.

When City won the title in 2012, both they and Manchester United had 45 points after 19 games.

In their triumphant 2013-14 campaign, Pellegrini's team had mustered 41 points, one behind Arsenal on 42. This time last year, Chelsea, the eventual champions, had 46, with City in second place on 43.

Pellegrini is well aware that, in any of those seasons, the fact that his side have already lost five games would probably have seen them cut adrift in the title race, acknowledging that they can still harbour hopes only because their rivals have been equally erratic.

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    Manchester City's points difference at the halfway stage now versus the 45 that they and United had when City first won the Premier League title in 2012

"Of course we are in a good position," the Chilean said. "But I think this is a special season. In a normal season, with the amount of points we have at this moment, it is not good (enough) to fight for the title, as there is a team with a lot of points in front. Now, we are just three points behind , and I hope we are going to complete a very good second part of the season."

He has not ruled out the possibility of bolstering his resources to do just that - "as always," he said, "we do not close the window, but we are not really thinking of bringing any special players in".

According to The Guardian, City are keen to sign Leroy Sane, the highly-rated 19-year-old Schalke forward, but would hope to pay less than the €40 million (S$61.7 million) the German club want.

Pellegrini believes City's problematic away form will be solved once his players' finishing improves, with his team having taken three points from the past 18 available on the road.

City have failed to win away since Crystal Palace were defeated by a late Kelechi Iheanacho strike on Sept 12. At Leicester City on Tuesday, they drew 0-0 when a number of chances were spurned.

City travel to promoted Watford today, who have surprised many with their good form and are currently lying ninth. But their 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Monday came as a setback.

Manager Quique Sanchez Flores revealed that the tears of his 12-year-old son Paulo forced him to put the result into context.

"I'm always thinking that we need to keep our minds and that is important because we don't want to lose our perspective," Flores said.

"We have lots of reasons to be happy to say, 'Paulo, we need to be happy.' We are competitive, we have a good connection with the fans, we are in a good position, we are playing well and have the possibility to win a lot."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Pellegrini pleased erratic City are still in the running'. Print Edition | Subscribe