Soccer

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Pellegrini: Players still hurting

Published 29/01/2014 | 07:32

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Manuel Pellegrini believes his side are hungry to atone for last year

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini senses his team could be finding extra motivation by seeking to atone for the disappointments of last season.

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City surrendered the Barclays Premier League crown to Manchester United and were surprisingly beaten by Wigan in the FA Cup final last year.

The campaign also ended on a sour note as manager Roberto Mancini was sacked but, under Pellegrini, they have put all that behind them this term.

Pellegrini has focused on attack and style, and the results have been impressive with City heading into February in contention for four trophies and with 110 goals to their name.

Pellegrini said: "This season maybe they were hurt for what happened last season.

"They needed to demonstrate again what kind of players they are.

"It is very important in that sense to win things and the only way to win is with a high performance from all of them, but with style to do it. Maybe, of course, I think they want revenge."

Free-scoring City have run up several big scores this season, most notably putting seven goals past Norwich and hitting six against both Arsenal and Tottenham.

They have now gone 19 games unbeaten since November - winning 17 of them - but if there has been a vulnerability it has been in defence.

Captain Vincent Kompany has said he believes the side's strength - attack - can also be their weakness as it places extra importance on winning back the ball quickly. He also said complacency could be their "biggest enemy".

Pellegrini made known his anger at the defence after last Saturday's FA Cup scare against Watford, when City recovered from 2-0 down to win 4-2, describing their performance as a "disaster".

On the whole, however, he has claimed to be satisfied with his rearguard and does not feel they are exposed too often.

The Chilean, speaking ahead of Wednesday's trip to Tottenham, said: "Maybe you don't believe me but we work more on defending than attacking because of course it is difficult to when you have to defend with less defenders.

"I think it is very important to know how to do it and that's the way we work here.

"For the moment, we will continue in the same way. Maybe it's my opinion and I am wrong but I think this team defends very well."

City beat Spurs 6-0 when they met at the Etihad Stadium in November, but the Londoners have changed manager and hit form since then.

Under Tim Sherwood, Spurs have won their last four Premier League games and Pellegrini claims the last meeting will have no relevance at White Hart Lane.

He said: "That is a game that happened three months ago. The great motivation for Tottenham is in the position they are in the table of course if they win they will be near the top."

Pellegrini also delivered a positive update on the fitness of midfielder Samir Nasri, who was carried off on a stretcher with a knee injury during the victory at Newcastle on January 12.

The Frenchman initially said he expected to be out for up to eight weeks but Pellegrini has been hopeful of a quicker return.

Pellegrini said: "Next week Samir will start running and in two or three weeks he will be fit."

Press Association

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