Belfast Telegraph

Lampard: No pressure for Pellegrini

Veteran midfielder Frank Lampard claims manager Manuel Pellegrini is showing no signs that the pressure is getting to him at Manchester City.

Pellegrini could be fighting for his position with his team now looking likely to end the season empty-handed.

City's Barclays Premier League title defence has faltered in 2015 amid a run of three wins in 12 games that also saw them crash out of the FA Cup and Champions League.

Pellegrini has faced some heavy criticism but has regularly insisted he does not feel pressure and Lampard, 36, is ready to vouch for him.

The former England international said: "I think Manuel is very calm. You can see his nature. He is very experienced and can handle all pressures.

"He's got a good manner and I think it is very important as a top manager that you never look as if the pressure is getting to you and he certainly never gives us that vibe."

Were City to dispense with the services of Pellegrini it would come just a year after they won the Premier League and Capital One Cup.

Former Chelsea star Lampard has experienced a similar scenario before, with Carlo Ancelotti having been axed at Stamford Bridge a year after a league and FA Cup double.

Lampard said: "Football is funny - the year we won the double we got beaten by Inter Milan in Champions League and we were struggling in the Premier League and everyone was talking about him getting the sack then - and we went and won the double. So it shows you what can happen in football.

"I don't think you can ever make too many calls or judgements at this stage of the season. Judgements will be made at the end of the season and that is fair enough."

Lampard, speaking after making his first start since January 4 in City's comfortable 3-0 win over West Brom on Saturday, is well used to playing under heavy scrutiny.

Lampard, who is now enjoying a top-flight swansong at City before joining New York City after 13 glorious years at Chelsea and 106 England caps, said: "We're not stupid. A club like Man City, same as Chelsea, when you have a desire and a responsibility to be fighting at the top of the league year in, year out, I think players and managers are under pressure at all times.

"I don't think there is much difference there. I certainly never get caught up in what might happen to the manager. I think it is irrelevant. You have to look at what you do yourself."

City still trail Chelsea by six points at the top of the table having played a game more following the weekend's fixtures.

With City having just eight games to play, the task looks an unlikely one but nobody has yet conceded defeat to Chelsea.

Lampard said: "I think both teams, both clubs, have a similar hunger and desire to win games and win titles. Both dressing rooms are full of players who have done it.

"When you are in the position that we are in, where we are behind, I think there is only one thing to do and that is worry about yourself, try and win games and then just see what happens."

City's victory on Saturday brought some relief after a difficult week which included defeats to Burnley and Barcelona. A return to winning ways always seemed likely after West Brom had Gareth McAuley sent off in the second minute - although that was for an offence committed by his team-mate Craig Dawson.

Referee Neil Swarbrick later apologised for that blunder but City took full advantage, cruising to victory with goals from Wilfried Bony, Fernando and David Silva.

Lampard said: "There are always tough times in football. No player, no club, ever has a clear easy run through a season or over a period of time. And it is important in those times that people remain strong, stand up and want to play and, basically, be positive. That was our message in the dressing room and I think it showed when we went out on the pitch."

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