Pellegrini rubbishes talk of City crisis after beating Saints

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini praised Manchester City's reaction to a testing week and insisted there is no crisis, after a 3-1 win over Southampton on Saturday put his side back on top of the English Premier League (EPL).

City had suffered a 4-1 league defeat by Liverpool last weekend and then a 1-0 loss at Juventus in their penultimate Champions League Group game on Wednesday.

However, the win over Southampton, who had not lost away from home in the league since the final day of last season, gave Pellegrini the impetus to silence the critics, after Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola was once again linked with his job.

"If you want to be involved in the title (race), you cannot drop more points at home, after we already dropped points against West Ham and Liverpool," said the City manager, whose side are above Leicester City on goal difference.

"We are the only team from the Premier League definitely through in the Champions League and the only team in the Champions League still in the League Cup.

"It is not a crisis. It is a very good season."

City welcomed back David Silva as a second-half substitute, following nine matches out with an ankle injury, but will need to check the fitness of Sergio Aguero before their League Cup quarter-final against Championship side Hull City tomorrow.

Pellegrini said he only planned to play the Argentinian striker for 65 minutes to ease him back following a hamstring injury. But moments before limping off, Aguero appeared to land awkwardly as he challenged at the far post.

"He has a pain in his heel. We will see tomorrow but I hope it is nothing important," said the Chilean.

While Pellegrini took precautionary measures by substituting Aguero in the 64th minute, Guardiola was also guarded on Saturday.

The Spaniard refused to answer questions about his future as he faced the media for the first time since fresh speculation emerged that he is City-bound.

He had pulled out of his pre-match press conference on Friday amid those rumours but had to face reporters after Bayern went 11 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday with a 2-0 win at home to Hertha Berlin.

The latest talk is that the preference of Guardiola's next destination is not City, but their city rivals Manchester United.

When asked what would be the key factor in making a decision about his next move, the 44-year-old Spaniard replied: "No. Next question - please do not go there."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'Pellegrini rubbishes talk of City crisis after beating Saints'. Print Edition | Subscribe