Wednesday 7 December 2016

Pellegrini bristles at criticism of City's Euro home form

Luke Edwards

Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30

Pellegrini has been increasingly curt with the media, possibly in response to the constant speculation about his future as City manager
Pellegrini has been increasingly curt with the media, possibly in response to the constant speculation about his future as City manager

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini reacted tersely to criticism of his team's home form in Europe by arguing that history and statistics will not help them beat Sevilla tonight.

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City have won just three of nine Champions League games at home under Pellegrini and have generally struggled against continental opposition at the Etihad Stadium.

Although European football's most glamorous competition is important to City's brand expansion and reputation abroad, it does not appear to have captured the imagination of supporters in the same way other aspects of the club's rise under Sheikh Mansour have done.

However, when asked about City's poor home form and whether an improvement was key to their progress in Europe, Pellegrini was prickly.

"I don't know the exact statistics," said the Chilean, who side returned to the top of the Premier League with the 5-1 defeat of Bournemouth last Saturday.

"If these are the right numbers you are saying, of course we must improve but we are just thinking about one game, not the past. We want to make a good impression.

"We play against a different team, we hope we can win. I don't know what the home record is - I'm not looking at the past. All the other things are just statistics or history, that will not help us to win or lose.

"I don't know why you are comparing this season to other seasons. Last season, we won two of our home games in Europe and we lost against Bayern Munich and we lost against Barcelona, with one less player (than them). That is history."

Pellegrini has been increasingly curt with the media, possibly in response to the constant speculation about his future as City manager, but his mood also indicated how important he feels the game against Sevilla is.

Having lost their opening group game at home to Juventus, Pellegrini conceded that qualification for the round of 16 is likely to rest on their results against the Spanish side.

Sevilla have struggled in La Liga and are 13th in the table, although they did beat Barcelona 2-1 at the start of the month.

"It is not the start we would have expected of Sevilla. We thought they would be higher in the league," Pellegrini said.

"Every team has moments in the season when they are not strong. They have some great players. They were not presented with the last two Europa Leagues for free.

"You don't know whether the two games against Sevilla are going to be decisive because we have another two games against Juventus and Mönchengladbach, but at this moment I think it will be the two games against Sevilla that will decide which one of us qualifies."

City spent £150m in the summer to improve a squad who finished second in the Premier League and were knocked out of the Champions League for the second successive year in the round of 16.

That has increased the pressure on Pellegrini to deliver at least one of those trophies at the end of his third season at the Etihad.

Their chances of beating Sevilla have not been helped by yet another hamstring injury to Sergio Agüero, which will mean City have to rely on Wilfried Bony to lead the line against Sevilla, even though he was poor against Juventus.

"Bony can play with or without Agüero," said Pellegrini, who insisted that Yaya Touré remained happy at the club, despite the fact that the Ivory Coast international claimed in an interview in France that he was not shown enough respect in England.

"It doesn't have to be that Agüero is missing for Bony to play. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Manchester City v Seville, Live, BT Sport 2, 7.45

Telegraph.co.uk

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