Pellegrini refuses to point finger of blame

Hart and Clichy at fault as Manchester City given a lesson on home turf by Bayern

Manchester City’s Joe Hart reacts after Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller scored his side’s second goal at the Etihad Stadium last night. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester City’s Joe Hart reacts after Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller scored his side’s second goal at the Etihad Stadium last night. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters


Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame individuals after his side were swept aside by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. City were given a footballing lesson by the European champions at the Etihad Stadium, losing 3-1 in a one-sided Group D encounter. Yet as brilliant as the Germans were, City contributed to their own downfall with defensive mistakes, particularly from goalkeeper Joe Hart and left-back Gael Clichy, proving costly.

Pellegrini said: “I will talk about the team, not individual players.

“We played today really badly, (that was) not the team we are seeing every Sunday here in the Premier League and that was the worst thing. We didn’t have possession of the ball and we tried to have more. Bayern always had a lot of possession but that was not a good day for us.

“The three goals — I think we can do better, not only the goalkeeper. But you can concede goals to Bayern Munich because they are a strong team.”

Bayern took a firm grip of the game after just seven minutes when Franck Ribery cut inside and lashed a shot through Hart’s attempted save. Thomas Muller doubled the lead after the break when Clichy was caught flat-footed and Hart was beaten at his near post by Arjen Robben soon after. The manner of the goals is likely to intensify the pressure on Hart, who has been under fire after a number of indifferent performances for City or England over the past year.

Pellegrini admitted concern but would not go into detail on the issue. He said: “Of course I am worried about the mistakes but I think that it was not an easy game, we played against a very strong team. Our performance was not the way we have been playing. It is important to think about the future and what are are the solutions.”

City at least managed to finish strongly, with Alvaro Negredo firing a consolation and fellow substitute David Silva hitting the bar from a free-kick after Jerome Boateng was sent off for fouling Yaya Toure.

Pellegrini said: “I think that the three substitutes, Negredo, Silva, (James) Milner, they played very well.

“They changed the match in the last 20 minutes but the goal of Negredo was just a little thing at the end. The difference between Bayern Munich and Manchester City was the difference you saw the whole game.

“There are a lot of reasons why this happened so it is very important for me to have the solutions. I was surprised by the game we played today.”

Dutch winger Robben revelled in his side’s dominant performance, saying: “It was very good, the first 70 or 80 minutes in particular we played terrific football. To be so dominant against such a big team, we didn’t expect an easy game like that.

“I think it’s also a big compliment to our team but I expected a bit more from City.”

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, who has remarkably faced criticism despite an unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season, was a bit more measured in his assessment of City. The former Barcelona boss said: “I am respectful when you play against Manchester City with these unbelievable players.

“We played better, we won, but the football is special. I am lucky to be here to train these players. It is nice for the team to come to this country, where they love football so much, and play like we did today.”

The victory took Bayern clear at the top of the group and, even after just two games, probably leaves City in a battle with CSKA Moscow for second place. Guardiola remains convinced City will go through. He said: “I said it yesterday and nothing changed my mind. They are going to qualify and will be a tough opponent for the next round, but I can only talk about my team and what they did.”

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