Pellegrini not dreaming of title glory

Raheem Sterling scoring the opener in Saturday's 2-0 home win over Watford. It was the former Liverpool winger's first competitive goal for Manchester City.
Raheem Sterling scoring the opener in Saturday's 2-0 home win over Watford. It was the former Liverpool winger's first competitive goal for Manchester City.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

MANCHESTER • Manuel Pellegrini insists it is far too early for Manchester City to get carried away despite opening an eight-point lead over Chelsea in the English Premier League title race.

His side have maximum points from the four matches played after beating Watford 2-0 at Eastlands on Saturday.

Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho gave City a three-point advantage at the top of the table, ahead of second- placed Crystal Palace. The latter earned a surprise 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea, last season's champions, have collected just four points from their first four games. They have slipped well behind City, who beat them 3-0 two weeks ago.

Pellegrini, though, has cautioned against any dreams of title glory - pointing out that City had led Chelsea on goal difference in January of the last season.

However, they eventually ended the season eight points behind Jose Mourinho's side.

"We are not thinking about what happened with Chelsea. It's always important to create a gap with important teams," Pellegrini said.

"But we are just starting the season. We've only played four games.

"Remember that last season we finished eight points behind Chelsea, yet in January we had exactly the same number of points and we (were) top of the table.

"So it's important to think game by game, and not to think about other rivals."

He will nevertheless be boosted by new signing Kevin de Bruyne, who inked a six-year deal yesterday after a reported £54 million (S$117 million) transfer from Wolfsburg.

City have already benefited this season from their other major addition: Sterling, who signed for £49 million from Liverpool last month.

The England winger's goal against Watford was his first in a competitive game for his new club, and he will soon make people forget about his large price tag, according to Pellegrini.

"I hope he will score more goals than he did with Liverpool. I think that playing with creative players such as Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, David Silva and Yaya Toure will help him improve a lot," he said.

"It will help him score more goals but also the good thing about Sterling is that he is not just about scoring. He works a lot during the whole game.

"He gives us pace in one-against-one situations that maybe we didn't have last season so there are a lot of reasons why we bought him.

"The important thing is that he is demonstrating that he is not an expensive player, he is a good player."

Watford's defeat was their first in the Premier League since winning promotion from the Championship last season.

But Quique Flores' side have yet to win after drawing their opening three games and have not scored in four league and Cup matches.

"It's difficult to score. We need to be better when we get chances. But I am not worried. It is normal. We have to be positive, to work hard," he said. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Pellegrini not dreaming of title glory'. Print Edition | Subscribe