Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrini defiant over criticism

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini appeared ready to fight for his job as he faced the media following fresh criticism and speculation over his position.

The Chilean has come under heavy fire in the past week after damaging 2-1 defeats to Barcelona and Liverpool.

City face an uphill battle to turn around their Champions League last-16 tie at the Nou Camp while they now trail Barclays Premier Leaders Chelsea by five points having played a game more.

Pellegrini was accused of tactical naivety following both results, having sent out his team in his default 4-4-2 system and seen them easily undone.

The faltering on two fronts has also fuelled speculation linking the likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Carlo Ancelotti with his position, but Pellegrini claims he is not feeling the heat.

The 61-year-old, speaking at a press conference to preview Wednesday's clash with Leicester, said: "I never have any pressure to win an amount of titles and to win a title every year if I want to continue here. I don't feel any pressure, especially from the media.

"I feel pressure only when I don't see my team playing the way I want it to do."

Prior to Pellegrini's appointment, chief executive Ferran Soriano spoke of an ambition to win five trophies in five seasons.

Pellegrini won two in his first year - the Premier League and Capital One Cup - but he insists he has not been told of any minimum requirement per season.

He said: "When I signed the contract, I was never told I must win a title every year or that I must win five trophies in five years.

"That was a sentence of Ferran. That is perfectly normal. But maybe you can win two in one year and one in another, the other another two.

"You never know in football. There are different ways to analyse the season. The title is important but it is not the only important thing."

Pellegrini has generally stuck to his attacking philosophy throughout his time at the Etihad Stadium and he seems in little mood to change.

The club's ownership are thought not only to want to win, but to do so in style, and Pellegrini feels his team still offer a lot on that front.

He said: "The concern is to win the next 11 games. It is important to have (control of) our mind and trust in what we do.

"This is the same team that won two cups last year and scored around 160 goals (actually 156) - the most in the history here.

"This year we are continuing second in the table, just two or three points (actually five) less than last year."

City do have recent precedent for changing managers having dispensed with Roberto Mancini in 2013 despite his past successes of winning the FA Cup and Premier League.

The present situation does hold some similarities, despite Pellegrini's protestations, but it is not bothering the former Real Madrid and Malaga boss.

He said: "I only think about the present. You never know what will happen in the future.

"You don't know if we are going to win against Barcelona or be out of the Champions League. Maybe last year nobody would say we were going to win the Premier League.

"I have 25 years' experience of management at important clubs and I never feel the pressure."

As for critical analysis of his team's performance - by many players turned pundits - Pellegrini was indifferent.

"It is not my duty to tell the media what they must think," he said. "Everyone has his opinion and the right to give their opinion."

City will look to get back to winning ways as they host Premier League bottom side Leicester.

Pellegrini said: "I hope that we can recover to be a consistent team during the whole game. I am sure if we can do it, we are going to win.

"But if we think that we are going to win against Leicester because they are bottom of the table, that would be a very bad decision."

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