We are on a path to glory, says Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini has already made history with Manchester City by getting them beyond the Champions League round of 16 for the first time and he could do it again with just over a month to go until he ends a three-year reign as manager.
Delivering a first Champions League title to add to a Premier League title and two League Cups
he has won would be some legacy. However, the 62-year-old insists it is not his place in the record books that matters, only that City have continued along a journey he is convinced will make them European champions.
“I never think about me,” Pellegrini said. “I hope we win it this year. If not, we’ve made important steps to doing it in the next seasons. I also think that if we win the Champions League this year, it’s not the finish of the project here.
“Every year we must be involved in both competitions and I hope that this is the target for the club. It would be very important to do it this year, but you cannot think that it is all done.”
City’s run, which has brought four wins in five games, as well as their advancement to a Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid, has come too late to mount a charge for the league title. But for long-serving defender Pablo Zabaleta, these are still heady days.
“I never thought we would be talking about the semi-finals of the Champions League when I first came, but it was amazing how I saw the club change – the way we have improved as a club and a team and worked so hard for so many years as a group of players, trying to make the club bigger and better every season,” he said.
Zabaleta played his part in City’s latest win with the cross that led to Kelechi Iheanacho, 19, scoring the first of his two goals to put them 3-0 up after half-time. Fernando had earlier headed City in front and Sergio Agüero added his 23rd Premier League goal of the season from the penalty spot before Iheanacho took his tally for the season to 11.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes, who signed Zabaleta in 2008 at the start of his 18 months as City manager, said: “It’s good that they’re flying the flag for the Premier League. It’s the strongest league but we need to show that the top teams have similar qualities to those that the Barcelonas and the Real Madrids have.”
Tomorrow, City will have their chance.
Spot on: Sergio Agüero scored from a penalty