Sunday 18 March 2018

Zabaleta: Boss deserves respect

Pablo Zabaleta, right, does not think it is fair to blame manager Manuel Pellegrini for all Manchester City's failings
Pablo Zabaleta, right, does not think it is fair to blame manager Manuel Pellegrini for all Manchester City's failings

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta claims manager Manuel Pellegrini is not getting the respect he deserves.

Speculation over the Chilean's future has been considerable in recent weeks as City have faltered in the Barclays Premier League title race.

Pellegrini has borne the brunt of the criticism for City's failure to sustain a serious challenge to Chelsea, having been joint-top of the table in January.

Zabaleta feels that is unfair on the 61-year-old, who oversaw two trophy successes last year.

The Argentinian right-back said: "The manager deserves more respect from everyone. He came here last season, he won the league and the Capital One Cup.

"We cannot blame just the manager for this moment. Individual players have also not been great in the whole season.

"Everyone is responsible - when you don't win titles it can be a little bit frustrating for everyone."

A number of other managers have been linked with Pellegrini's position but the club are not understood to be considering a change at present, despite this season's dip in performance.

There have also been claims a thorough squad clear-out could take place, but nothing will be decided until after a review is carried out at the end of the campaign.

Zabaleta said: "Now is not the time to be thinking about what went wrong this season, it's just the time to finish as good as we can. Then we'll see what happens.

"It's not for me to say what should and should not happen.

"For the players, the owners, the manager and the staff, we are 100 per cent focused on what we are doing now.

"Then at the end of the season the right people will analyse what went wrong. The people responsible in every part of the club will decide what is best for the future."

Zabaleta accepts he has fallen below his own high standards this season.

The 30-year-old puts some of that down to fatigue after last summer's World Cup in Brazil, where he reached the final with Argentina.

He feels the criticism has been severe because the expectations on the club are now so great.

He said: "From my point of view it has been hard after the World Cup - we only had 20 days' holiday. Mentally and physically it's been really tough, the Premier League is one of the most competitive in the world in terms of the physical demands.

"It seems for a lot of players who were at the World Cup this season has been very tough - not just in England.

"But when you look at the team, with the players we've got you expect to play much better football. We must be honest with ourselves and recognise that it was not our best season.

"Sometimes football is like that but at City it seems one disappointing season is like a disaster. Maybe it's because we've won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup, the Capital One.

"Now it seems like because we have not won something it's a disaster and we have to change seven or eight players, the manager. That's what people say."

Press Association

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