Pellegrini takes defeat by spirited Burnley on the chin

Only beating Barcelona in the Champions League can save the season for Man City now

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: ‘We are not doing well.’ Photograph: Reuters/Andrew Yates

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: ‘We are not doing well.’ Photograph: Reuters/Andrew Yates

 

Only one thing can save Manchester City’s season now and alter the perception of Manuel Pellegrini as a dead man walking. Any hope of the Premier League title is gone, City face a fight to even finish second, but staying alive in the Champions League at Barcelona’s expense would see the confidence return and possibly convince the club’s owners that progress is being made.

When you are trailing 2-1 from the home leg sorting out your season at Camp Nou is a tall order, however, and Pellegrini’s demeanour suggests as much. He did not attempt to hide from the truth at Turf Moor, and just as commendably he did not rail against the referee for denying his side what might have been a face-saving late penalty when Ben Mee tripped Pablo Zabaleta. He accepted that with the players City had on the pitch and the amount of possession they enjoyed, the result should have been better.

“We are not doing well, we do not have the points we need,” Pellegrini said. “I don’t think it was the case that our minds were on the Barcelona game. There is always that danger with a big game ahead but we have been in similar situations before and won.

“It was not a problem of effort, the problem was creative. If you look at the stats we had 70 per cent of possession, if you review the whole game I don’t think Burnley had any chances to score except the one they took, and that came from a free-kick on goal.

“We had enough creative players in the team, we created some chances, we did not deserve to lose but that sometimes happens in football.”

Logic would suggest a team that cannot win at Burnley is not a great bet for a win in Barcelona, but if City need a lesson in how to succeed as underdogs they need look no further than Sean Dyche’s spirited side, who have now taken four points from their illustrious near neighbours this season and are within a point of climbing out of the bottom three.

George Boyd’s sweetly struck second-half goal was the difference between the two sides, and the former Hull winger said the Burnley preparations were based on the 2-2 draw achieved at the Etihad in December and Liverpool’s tactics at Anfield a fortnight ago.

“City have some great players, there’s no doubt about that,” Boyd said. “They can cut you open in a second but if you press them and get in their faces they don’t really like it. If you tackle them hard and play a few long balls you find they are not used to it. “

Boyd believes Burnley should have more points than they actually do – “We battered Manchester United a couple of weeks ago but went behind before half-time and ended up losing”– and argues the club is still well-placed to climb out of trouble. “A lot of people would have assumed we would have fallen away by now, but we haven’t,” he said.

Guardian Service

 

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