Pellegrini: Nou excuses for City

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepts minds may have wandered to Barcelona as his side slipped up at Burnley.

City suffered another highly damaging result in their faltering Barclays Premier League title defence as they slumped to a surprise 1-0 loss at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Their chances of overhauling Chelsea at the top of the table now look slim and their hopes of rescuing the season could now come down to Wednesday’s daunting Champions League trip to the Nou Camp.

City must overturn a 2-1 deficit to reach the quarter-finals – a considerable task and a huge occasion that Pellegrini concedes may have been weighing on his players.

He said: “It’s always the case before a big game that maybe the minds are not completely on the game.

“But we tried to think just about this game. Maybe we did it well before the first leg when we played Newcastle, but here I don’t know why we couldn’t create the space because we had a lot of creative players and we had three or four chances. I don’t think we deserved to lose the game.”

Since pulling level with Chelsea on New Year’s Day, City have managed to win just three of nine league games.

It is a worrying sequence and speculation over Pellegrini’s future in the job is growing.

He said: “Of course we are not doing well. You can see that from the amount of points we have dropped.

“There are different reasons how we can improve and we must try and find the solution. The only thing I can tell you is that it’s not down to the effort of the players. They want – but maybe they can’t at the moment.”

George Boyd scored the only goal of the game with a crisp left-footed strike just after the hour and the relegation-battling Clarets deserved their reward for a hard-working display.

City did create more chances but generally lacked energy and a cutting edge in a lacklustre performance.

They might have snatched a point in injury time but Pablo Zabaleta had a strong penalty appeal turned down, with referee Andre Marriner awarding a free-kick the other way.

Zabaleta said: “First of all I was upset and angry about that decision. It was a penalty.

“And if it was a free-kick for them then probably the referee should have shown me a yellow card for diving. It was a bit strange.

“It was a big chance for us to get a point. When everything is really tight, at the end of the season any point can make a difference. Now it’s going to be hard.”

But at a time when player behaviour in relation to refereeing decisions has been in the spotlight, Zabaleta did at least feel he kept his cool.

The Argentina right-back said: “I didn’t say anything to the referee. People have talked about the way Chelsea players complained over Ibrahimovic – it’s something that in England people don’t like it. I just try to respect the decision of the referee.

“I got sent off last season in Barcelona when I went to the referee and complained about Dzeko’s penalty. So I try to have respect for referees now.”

While City were left to lick their wounds and prepare for Barcelona, Burnley could reflect on a job well done.

Despite some spirited displays, the Clarets had not won any of their previous seven games and were in danger of getting cut adrift in the bottom three.

The result lifted them within a point of 17th place and was a shot in the arm to their survival hopes.

Midfielder David Jones said: “You don’t want to keep harping on about bad decisions or luck going against you even though your performances have been good, so here I thought the performance was good and we got the luck we needed.

“We’re delighted. Coming against a great side like Manchester City, it’s a great feeling and a vital three points for us.

“It doesn’t give us a renewed hope – we have always believed – but more belief throughout the squad.

“But we don’t want this result to be an isolated one. We have got another big game next week against Southampton. We have got to take this belief into next weekend.”

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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