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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Nightmare week for Manuel Pellegrini

In a week that could have seen Manchester City prove themselves in Europe with a big performance at home against Barcelona and where they could have closed the gap at the top of the Premier League to just 2 points with Chelsea not playing, nothing has gone right for Manuel Pellegrini and his side. Instead City find themselves on the brink of another early Champions League exit after losing 2-1 to a Suarez inspired Barcelona and still sit 5 points off the summit of the Premier League having played a game more after Liverpool recorded a 2-1 home win over the defending champions.

City fans had come into the week with such promise,Yaya Toure was back from the African Cup of Nations in great form, Aguero was finding his feet on his return from injury, Chelsea had just dropped points at home against Burnley, the gap was down to 5 points and City knew with Chelsea not playing in the Premier League that it would be huge physiologically to cut the gap to just 2 points with a win over Liverpool. First and foremost the whole of Manchester City had their eyes firmly set on Barcelona, having ended the group with great wins over Roma and Bayern Munich there was a sense Pellegrini’s side had turned a corner in Europe and they were all set for revenge against the side who knocked them out at the same stage last year.

The reality is however, a week that promised so much may well have ended any hope Manchester City had for silverware this season and it could possibly be a defining week in the future of Manuel Pellegrini. Chelsea look to have won by some miracle the Capital One Cup and the Premier League on the same day as should Chelsea win their game in hand they will move 8 points clear at the top, a lead a Jose Mourinho side does not relinquish. Their high hopes in the Champions League though still alive are hanging by a thread, going to the Nou Camp already losing 2-1 is a huge task, one that in all likelihood this Manchester City side are not capable of achieving. With the Premier League all but out of their grasp and their Champions League exit imminent you feel, City’s season is in danger of fading out with a whimper.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini is one man who will be trying to make sure this is not the case and that his players will fight for the title and their place in the Champions League valiantly, in the same period he may also be fighting to save his job. Regardless of his Premier League win last campaign, the Manchester City owners expect results and right now the Chilean is not delivering. They have shown in the past they have no mercy with the sacking of Roberto Mancini, the man who won the first ever Premier League title for the blue side of Manchester but that was quickly forgotten about once results began to turn. It is hard to see Pellegrini’s side salvaging anything from this season at the moment and his faith may already be sealed.

The performance of the side as of late has been particularly unimpressive, the return of Yaya Toure seemed to have rejuvenated the side but today against Liverpool he was average at best and often looked disinterested. There appears to be a real mystery as to what Pellegrini’s game plan is, instead of a team they resemble a collection of players not really gelling as a team. Despite possessing the talent of David Silva, Toure and Aguero, City do not threaten half as much as they should recording only one shot on target against Liverpool, which may well be down to the way the manager has set up. Defensively they are also beginning to look ragged with captain Vincent Kompany looking increasingly out of his depth and way off the standard we have come to expect from the big Belgian.

Jamie Carragher pointed out after the Liverpool game the tactical naivety of Manchester City and Pellegrini for not putting a player in between the line of defence and midfield, the position in which Phil Coutinho and Adam Lallana thrived all game. Poor performances against big opposition has been a problem this season, looking back at the Arsenal game at home and even their recent European clash with Barcelona. This tactical naivety has effectively ruined Manchester City’s season and may well have ended Manuel Pellegrini’s spell as manager.