Title race not over for Pellegrini

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Published: Saturday 14th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to accept the title race was over despite another heavy setback to his side’s chances at Burnley.

The champions crashed to a surprise 1-0 defeat to the relegation battlers at Turf Moor and remain five points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea, who now have two games in hand.

City have fallen away alarmingly since pulling level with the Londoners on New Year’s Day and have won just three of their last nine league games.

Pellegrini said: “Every point we drop will be more difficult.

“When you have mathematical chances you must try to continue fighting, but the most important thing is to trust in what we are doing, try to win the next game and we will see at the end of the season where you will finish.”

George Boyd struck the only goal of the game with a sweet, low left-foot half-volley from the edge of the area just after the hour.

The Scot had shot narrowly wide with a volley from distance just moments earlier.

City did muster 21 chances but only got five on target and generally lacked energy and a cutting edge.

TV pundit Jamie Redknapp claimed it was the type of performance that could get a manager the sack, but Pellegrini – who is coming under increasing pressure – refused to criticise his side.

He said: “It was a normal performance. I don’t think we played very bad. We had three or four chances. Burnley had just one shot on target and scored one goal, but we need to create more chances.

“I don’t think we created the amount of chances we need to score goals.”

When it was suggested the performance should not be acceptable, Pellegrini, speaking in his post-match press conference, said: “I said it was a normal performance. We will try to improve and we must do it.”

On Redknapp’s remarks he said: “I accept any different opinions of all people.”

With the title looking a long shot, City could now face a battle to hold on to second place – or even their spot in the top four – with Arsenal just one point behind.

Pellegrini brushed aside those concerns and instead turned focus to Wednesday’s Champions League battle at Barcelona.

The Chilean said: “We are worried just about our team. We continue in second place, so we are not doing so bad. We have 27 points more we must fight for to try to keep this position.

“From tomorrow we must trust in what we are doing and try to win on Wednesday in Barcelona.”

Pellegrini revealed that James Milner missed the game to rest a knee problem but was expected to be fit to play at the Nou Camp.

The mood in the Burnley camp was understandably different after a result that reinvigorated their survival hopes.

The Clarets’ victory – despite some battling recent displays – was only their second in 13 games and pulled them within a point of 17th-placed Sunderland.

Manager Sean Dyche said: “Our will and desire to be in the Premier League is all on show, but we won’t get too carried away.

“We know there’s a long way to go. The players are grounded.

“We haven’t been broken from defeat – we’ve been dented a few times – but this win reinforces confidence and belief.

“It was deserved, I think. Overall I think we edged it. It was a close game, why wouldn’t it be against players of that calibre? I’m obviously delighted with the outcome and the performance.

“I have said many times this season I think the players are improving. I think they are growing and learning at this level.

“It doesn’t guarantee the future and there is still room for more, but this reinforces all the good work that has been done.”

Published: Saturday 14th March 2015 by The News Editor

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