LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini said it was "strange" Sergio Aguero has never been player of the year in England after the Manchester City star's hat-trick secured a 3-0 win at Chelsea on Saturday.
Despite being one of the Premier League's most consistent scorers in recent seasons, Aguero has yet to win either the Football Writers' player of the year award or the equivalent honour from his peers in England's Professional Footballers' Association.
Aguero - the league's top scorer last season with 26 goals - failed to make last week's six-man shortlist for the 2016 PFA award.
It did not seem to bother him as counter-attacking strikes either side of half-time, plus a penalty 10 minutes from the finish at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea goalkeeper Thibault Courtois was sent off for a foul on Fernandinho, took the Argentina striker's tally to 21 league goals so far this season.
"It's very strange that Sergio has played so many years here and has never been the best Premier League player here," said Pellegrini after a win that saw City stay four points clear of local rivals Manchester United in the race for a place in next season's Champions League.
Number of minutes Manchester City's Sergio Aguero takes, on average, to score in the Premier League.
"I think here, in the Premier League, we have very good players but without doubt Sergio is one of the best and so important."
Aguero is the most efficient hitman in England's top flight, with a goal every 97 minutes. After 33 league games this campaign, only Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane has scored more (22).
Aguero has only been nominated for the Player of the Year award in 2012, the year in which his stoppage-time strike against Queens Park Rangers earned City their first Premier League title. He was also part of City's title-winning side in 2014 but has never been nominated in the PFA Team of the Year.
The Argentinian and a host of other City stars were rested in City's 5-1 FA Cup defeat by Chelsea in February when Pellegrini effectively fielded a youth team. And the City manager said his side were keen to atone for that loss.
"When you have all your best players playing together, the team's performance is better," he said. "We wanted revenge for the FA Cup"
Equally influential in the victory was midfielder Kevin de Bruyne with a performance that has left many questioning why Chelsea let their former midfielder leave.
The Belgian's return from injury has played a significant part in City's recent improved form and he was at the hub of most of their attacks, linking superbly with Aguero for the first two goals.
First de Bruyne broke from a Chelsea corner to allow Aguero to cut inside and open the scoring. Then de Bruyne produced another telling thrust from his own half to again feed Aguero, via Samir Nasri, as City overwhelmed Chelsea.
Blues' caretaker boss Guus Hiddink was impressed with de Bruyne, saying: "He's a beautiful player to see. He's very keen to play between the lines. All their (City's) players are."
But he rejected suggestions of a lack of fight by Chelsea, with many players notionally playing for their futures ahead of the arrival of incoming coach Antonio Conte.
"I don't fully agree with that," said Hiddink. It's difficult if you're up against a very intelligent team.
"We had some half-chances and there was no lack of fighting spirit, but it's difficult when they play around you."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS