Manuel Pellegrini refused to accept Manchester City’s hopes of Champions League qualification are now under threat after their lackluster 3-0 loss at Liverpool.
City started the season as favorites for the Premier League title and a place in the top four was thought to be a formality.
However, they are currently in freefall and were comfortably second best on Wednesday as goals from Adam Lallana, James Milner and Roberto Firmino condemned them to a third straight league defeat.
City might be impressing in the Champions League and also beat Liverpool in the League Cup final on Sunday, but they are in real danger of falling away from the leading pack in the top-flight.
Pellegrini bemoaned the lack of preparation his side had for this contest following a long journey back from Ukraine after last Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg win over Dynamo Kiev and then Sunday’s Wembley final – which lasted 120 minutes before City’s penalty shootout win.
But the City boss did accept that a victory against Aston Villa on Saturday is now absolutely vital if his fourth placed side, now level on points with fifth placed Manchester United and 10 points behind leaders Leicester, are to get back on track.
“I’m not thinking about the title or not thinking about qualifying for the Champions League, it’s important to think about the next game,” Pellegrini said.
“We need to win at home because we have lost our last three games in the Premier League so that is the most important thing. We have to recover our performances in the Premier League and get as many points as we can.
“We’ve lost the last three games but we want to try and be on the top of the table. We have less than three days to recover, we have to play on Saturday at 3pm so we are going to see the best team that can start on Saturday.”
– Woeful –
Pellegrini took former Liverpool star Raheem Sterling off at half-time Wednesday but denied that the loud booing the winger endured during the first half had anything to do with the decision.
Sterling left Anfield under a cloud in a move to City last year and had no impact in a woeful first half display.
“It was because we were losing 2-0 and I wanted to make a tactical change,” Pellegrini added.
Meanwhile Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was thrilled with the way his team responded to the disappointment of losing to City at the weekend and praised the mental strength he has in his squad.
Liverpool never gave City a chance on a bitterly cold night as Lallana, Firmino, Emre Can and James Milner ran the show from start to finish.
Klopp is hoping the victory gives Liverpool an extra boost as the end of the season appears on the horizon and he was full of compliments for his side.
“I’m very pleased, very satisfied with all the 93 minutes,” Klopp said. “It was really good from the first second. We spoke about the final after the game.
“It was very important we showed the reaction, we showed we are not as disappointed as it could have had a negative influence on the performance tonight.
“The boys did brilliant. They were very angry in a positive way.
“Tonight is more about the mental thing. We lost on Sunday. We had to show a reaction. We were lively from the start.
“With their quality City can always win and score decisive goals but tonight we made it really difficult for them.
“We can go and go and go because we are in a good moment and they are not.”
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