Pellegrini backs Toure to deliver for City at scene of racist controversy

By Andy Hampson

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes Yaya Toure is ready to deliver as he returns to the scene of last year's Russian controversy this evening.

Toure was racially abused by home supporters when City played CSKA Moscow at Khimki Arena in the Champions League last October.

He will now take to the same field again almost exactly a year on after this season's draw pitted City in the same group as the Russian champions.

The crowd will not be a factor this time as the game takes place behind closed doors as a result of further offences by CSKA supporters.

Instead the focus is on a game City need to win to ignite their campaign, as well as the form of Toure.

The Ivory Coast international has still not returned to his formidable best after a difficult summer but Pellegrini has seen encouraging signs.

The City boss said: "I don't agree that Yaya has had a bad season.

"Maybe if you compare his performances this year to last season, when he had a brilliant performance, maybe he just needs time to get back to that level.

"But he continues to be a very important player for our team, especially as he showed two games ago against Aston Villa.

"Every game he is playing better. He had a very complicated summer, but I think now he is arriving back towards his normal performance.

"But I don't think this team just depends on one player. If we didn't play well in some games before, it's because the whole team didn't play well, not only Yaya."

Toure's performances have sparked debate over his best position, and whether he would not be better playing in a permanent advanced role, free of defensive responsibilities.

But Pellegrini said: "He can play both positions but he will continue in the position where, last season, he was the best player in the Premier League."

Pellegrini (pictured left) feels it is a shame this evening's game will be played in a near-empty stadium.

It is the first of three more European home matches CSKA have been ordered to play behind closed doors after three offences in the past year, although the club are appealing.

The Chilean said: "It is a pity that we cannot play with fans. This is a showpiece for fans.

"It will be a very strange game, with only the players shouting on the pitch.

"We have no option and we must play that way, and many may think the local team will suffer the most damage, but I think the biggest loser is the game of football."

City have collected just one point from their opening two Group E games against Bayern Munich and Roma and can ill afford to drop many more points in their upcoming back-to-back games against CSKA. CSKA are also anxious for victory having lost both their openers but their striker Ahmed Musa has expressed confidence, saying the English champions are "very weak."