Pellegrini refuses to blame trip

Published: Saturday 24th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists his side’s week-long trip to Abu Dhabi did not influence their shock FA Cup loss to Championship side Middlesbrough.

The Barclays Premier League champions spent the five days prior to Saturday’s fourth-round tie at the Etihad Stadium at a warm-weather training camp in the United Arab Emirates.

The team only returned to Manchester on Friday evening and questions were quickly asked about the wisdom of the venture after goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike dumped them out of the cup.

But Pellegrini, who did have the option to return on Thursday after playing a friendly against Hamburg the previous day, denied the travel was a factor.

“I don’t think so,” said Pellegrini at his post-match press conference, when asked about the matter. “I don’t agree but you can have your opinion. I have a different opinion.

“We had six or seven clear chances to score at the beginning. I think we played very well.

“After they scored the goal we were disorderly and they had another counter-attack and they could score more goals.

“But it is very easy to say that (about Abu Dhabi). I don’t think that is the reason.

“You can analyse the game and if you think that is the reason, that is your reason but I have a different opinion from that.”

City dominated the first half but were repeatedly denied by Middlesbrough’s former Real Madrid goalkeeper Tomas Mejias.

Bamford’s strike after 53 minutes changed the complexion of the game and substitute Kike put the result beyond doubt in injury time.

Pellegrini said: “We had two games in the same match. Before they scored we did played very well. After that I think Middlesbrough deserved to continue in the cup.

“But I feel it is not normal not to score in the last two games at home.

“I think there are a lot of football reasons rather than Abu Dhabi. They are different things.”

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka felt after his side survived everything City threw at them in the first half that they might have a chance of pulling off a famous win.

Karanka, a former Real Madrid assistant boss, said: “At half-time I told my players – and maybe they thought I was crazy – Manchester City are in our hands because the only chances they had in the first half came from our mistakes, and we fixed those mistakes in the second half and we worked better with the ball.

“We didn’t lose the ball like we did in the first half and that is why we had this chance.”

Karanka’s team are enjoying a fine season having risen to second in the Championship.

They also took Liverpool to a penalty shootout in the Capital One Cup earlier in the campaign but Karanka felt this was his most satisfying result.

“Yes of course (it is),” he said. “I have a been a manager just for 20 months.

“We were very close at Liverpool, but the penalties finished our dreams. Today we have beaten one of the best squads in the world.

“It is very important for our club and everybody, but my thoughts are now on Brentford next Saturday because our first objective is the league.

“They can enjoy it today and tomorrow but Tuesday we have to start to think about Saturday because it’s an important game.”

Published: Saturday 24th January 2015 by The News Editor

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