Manuel Pellegrini determined to stick to familiar attacking blueprint
Manchester City boss refuses to change his tactics for another showdown with Chelsea
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “I don’t have any concerns – we know exactly the way Chelsea attack and the way they defend.” Photo: Chris Radburn/PA
A defiant Manuel Pellegrini is intent on Manchester City again attacking Chelsea in today’s FA Cup tie despite Jose Mourinho’s side winning the recent league meeting by hitting them on the break.
Samir Nasri should start in the fifth-round match at the Etihad Stadium following a month out with an injured knee.
Chelsea won the previous game 1-0 with Mourinho’s successful use of the counterattack leading to criticism of Pellegrini, whose side appeared too open, with City’s manager deploying the central defender Martin Demichelis in a holding midfield role.
City were particularly exposed by the pace of Eden Hazard, yet Pellegrini does not plan to change his philosophy.
“Why? Because I am absolutely sure that in the previous game it was not a problem with tactics,” said the Chilean. “The squad had a lot of changes and we had three or four clear chances before they scored. If we’d scored we could have scored again.”
Chelsea won with a rare goal from Branislav Ivanovic with his weaker foot.
“The goal they got, he does not find it easy to shoot with his left foot – but he did it in that game,” Pellegrini said.
“If we’d scored first the result could have been different but the tactics would have been the same.”
Demichelis was deployed in midfield because of Fernandinho’s absence with a muscle injury, though Pellegrini denied this had weakened City.
“I don’t think so. They had a shot from [Nemanja] Matic and a header against the post from [Gary]Cahill – but they didn’t have any more chances in the second half,” said the manager.
“In the first half they had one after we missed a pass and resulted in a counterattack. And they scored the goal they got. It was not because we didn’t have Fernandinho, it was because we made a mistake with a pass.”
Pellegrini was clear that City had not been gung-ho when losing that match to Chelsea. “I don’t agree with you,” he said. “In the first game we played with two midfielders – Demichelis and Yaya Toure. We had 64 per cent average of possession of the ball. It’s important to be balanced when you are attacking. Not just with defensive midfielders.”
City have not scored in their past two matches after piling up 115 goals this season and Pellegrini again stressed how his approach is to score more than the opposition.
“I don’t have any concerns – we know exactly the way Chelsea attack and the way they defend,” he said.
“It’s more important for me if we score goals. If we scored one goal we’d have drawn that game, if we’d got one against Norwich [in the last match] we’d have won it. I repeat, I will continue to think exactly in the same way – it’s important to score and defend well.”
City face Barcelona on Tuesday in the Champions League last-16 first leg. Pellegrini, who stated that Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero will not be available for that game, is not tempted to give Nasri the weekend off to be sure he is fit.
“One of the most important things in a recovery is to play a bit,” said the 60-year-old.