PEP TALK RU­INED CITY’S TI­TLE CHARGE

Out­go­ing boss Manuel Pel­le­grini cer­tainly thinks so...

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

“We never ex­pected to lose those games to Le­ices­ter and Tot­ten­ham.” – MANUEL PEL­LE­GRINI

Manch­ester City boss Manuel Pel­le­grini be­lieves the an­nounce­ment of Pep Guardi­ola’s ap­point­ment as his suc­ces­sor is to blame for their English Premier League ti­tle bid fall­ing away.

News of Pel­le­grini’s exit and the ar­rival of the Bay­ern Mu­nich coach broke on Fe­bru­ary 1, and was fol­lowed by dam­ag­ing back-to-back de­feats to Le­ices­ter and Tot­ten­ham, which de­railed their bid for top spot.

City, who play New­cas­tle tonight, have never been able to re­gain the ini­tia­tive and are now 13 points be­hind the Foxes with five games to go, leav­ing the Chilean count­ing the cost of those losses.

Pel­le­grini said: “Of course for dif­fer­ent rea­sons we lost im­por­tant games in Fe­bru­ary, against Le­ices­ter and Tot­ten­ham - two games which do not al­low us to be in­volved in the ti­tle.

“I am frus­trated be­cause we never ex­pected to lose those games at home against Le­ices­ter and Tot­ten­ham. But there are a lot of rea­sons why those things hap­pened. It’s not nor­mal in the way we are go­ing to fin­ish the sea­son.

“At the start of Fe­bru­ary there was news about the change of the man­ager, about play­ers who will not con­tinue here next sea­son, about a lot of things that in­volved the minds of all the play­ers. We had those de­feats at home, but now we are stable again and very happy to fin­ish play­ing the way we have in th­ese last games.”

He con­tin­ued: “It’s not easy for the play­ers when you read all things that will hap­pen next sea­son - all the play­ers who will go out, all the play­ers that will come in. It’s not easy for the play­ers to fo­cus their mind.

“But I think the merit of this squad is al­ways that it had a lot of char­ac­ter, per­son­al­ity. We never give up, we con­tinue in the same way, and I hope we will see in the fu­ture in the Cham­pi­ons League - I am sure this team, play­ing in this way, can play in the fi­nal.”

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