Manchester City mentally fatigued, says Pellegrini
Title contenders slumped to a 2-2 draw with Sunderland days after defeat to leaders Liverpool
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has not ruled out his side’s chances just yet. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manuel Pellegrini admitted Manchester City are mentally tired after Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, the Premier League’s bottom team, at the Etihad Stadium saw their title hopes fade dramatically.
The shock result leaves City six points behind leaders Liverpool with only one game in hand.
While Pellegrini, who hopes the injured David Silva can return for Monday’s visit of West Bromwich Albion, refused to concede his side’s challenge is over, the dropping of two points to Sunderland comes only three days after City lost 3-2 at Liverpool.
This left the manager admitting his players are fatigued with only five matches left. Pellegrini said: “I think more mentally tired than physically tired. Mentally it was very difficult to play this game after Liverpool. At this moment it is more mental than physical. When it no longer depends on what you can do it is very frustrating but we must finish season the way we have done practically the whole season, we must try to win our last five games.”
The result means Chelsea now also have the title in their hands. Beforehand osnly Liverpool had this advantage. The teams’ meeting at Anfield on Apri 27th will potentially decide who will be champions.
However, Liverpool remain favourites as they require only 10 points from their remaining four matches.
Yet a defiant Pellegrini pointed to two years ago when, eight points behind with six games left, City took the crown on the final day. “We have to play five games more so we continue having chances, less chances than before this game. But we continue having chances and I repeat my duties now are to talk with the players and try and win these five games and at the end of the season we will see which team has most points.
“Remember this team two years ago were six points behind the leaders and they won the title at the end. So it is difficult but it is not the last game we play (tonight).
“Maybe in this moment Liverpool and Chelsea have better chances than our team because we are in third position but we still continue fighting until the last game.”
Fernandinho’s opener after only 112 seconds appeared to set City on course for a comfortable evening. But after that they became disjointed as Connor Wickham’s strikes on 73 and 83 minutes were answered only by a late Samir Nasri equaliser.
Pellegrini was without Silva due to an ankle problem and, having handed Sergio Aguero a first start since 12 March after a hamstring injury, took him off on 55 minutes to ensure he was not over-worked.
The manager said: “David has a problem in his ankle. He played the last two games in that condition but it was a game each week. Playing after three days he couldn’t do it today. We will see how he is on Sunday for Monday. I hope he can play.
“Sergio was not able to play more than 60 minutes because he is not fit to do it. He does not have any problems with his injury but he had nearly two months without playing a game so I think the most amount of minutes he can play today was 60 and then change it.”
Despite their point, Gus Poyet’s team remain six points below Norwich who are in 17th place. “We played a great game and took something from it. I thought for a few minutes we were going to get all three points, but we didn’t because of an incredible moment again,” he said.
“I think everyone was expecting us to collapse and concede five or six, but we didn’t. We won’t stop or give up because the players know how important it is for the fans and the club to keep going until the end. It was a good game, and in a certain way I can be happy and proud of the players because it wasn’t easy. But they kept going and kept delivering, which is the key.
“It’s going to give us a little bit of confidence, and it should allow us to go into the game on Saturday with a different approach. I was in a taxi today and the driver said: ‘The next two games are Manchester City and Chelsea away? Oof’.
“But we got a point, and now I’m sure all the players are believing they can get at least that if they play the same way at Chelsea. We are playing for ourselves – we are not playing for Liverpool.”