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Pellegrini holds his hands up

13 Dec 2013 15:31:51

Pellegrini holds his hands up

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini will turn his attention to this weekend's big clash with Arsenal after attempting to lay to rest his recent mathematical blunder.

Pellegrini accepts he made a mistake that could have cost his side top spot in their Champions League group in midweek.

But while the Chilean has apologised for not scoring another goal against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, he insists his team never stopped trying to better their 3-2 victory at the Allianz Arena.

Because of that he claims his conscience is clear and he is happy to accept the runners-up spot in Group D, even though it means a theoretically tougher draw in the next round.

City's achievement in memorably recovering from a 2-0 deficit to beat the European champions was tarnished by confusion over whether they understood the goal difference rules.

A 4-2 victory would have been enough to leapfrog the Germans with a superior head-to-head record and so there was bemusement when Pellegrini failed to send on top-scorer Sergio Aguero in the latter stages.

But City had got into a mindset of thinking they could only better Bayern's 3-1 success at the Etihad Stadium by winning by three clear goals.

Pellegrini said: "It shouldn't have been happening but it is very easy why it happened.

"After they scored the first goal, I continued (thinking) that 3-1 was not enough because they had a better goal difference, so I continued (to think) that we had to win by three goals, 3-0 or 4-1.

"After they scored the second goal, I didn't continue thinking about what happened if we scored four goals.

"That was my mistake, but not many teams score four goals against Bayern Munich.

"I tried to think better about how to arrange the game that we were losing 2-0.

"First of all I recognise absolutely my mistake but I don't have any guilty conscience about what we did because we always tried to score the fourth goal.

"I apologise for me and the team that we couldn't score four goals against Bayern Munich."

Pellegrini believes his team will take much confidence from their performance as they look forward to playing in the knock-out stages for the first time.

He said: "That is the most important thing. I am not afraid of who we are going to play in the round of 16.

"I believe the 16 best teams in Europe are all exactly the same for us.

"I think the trust the team has after beating Bayern Munich in their own stadium, that is much, much more important than being first in the group."

With the early European business now taken care of, City can focus on domestic matters and the Saturday lunchtime visit of Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Arsenal have a six-point advantage over City but Pellegrini's men boast a 100 per cent home record and have a perceived advantage because their midweek Champions League game came a day before the Gunners'.

Pellegrini said: "For Arsenal and our team it is very important, the game.

"They played one day after we did and maybe our match was not exactly the same, but I don't think that will be an advantage or those things will decide the game.

"I think the way both teams will play will be more important."

Pellegrini has previously spoken of his aim to be within three points of the leaders by new year.

The Chilean, speaking at his pre-match press conference, said: "It is our opportunity to discount three important points from the best team at the moment in the Premier League.

"But if we win, all the other teams will be nearer the top of the table so at least six or seven teams will continue fighting for the title."

Pellegrini insists champions Manchester United, despite slipping to ninth, are still one of the teams in that fight.

He said: "They have very good players, a very good team, good manager.

"In football you never know and a strong team like Manchester United always has chances."

Pellegrini would not confirm reports England goalkeeper Joe Hart would be restored for the game ahead of Costel Pantilimon.

He said: "We will see tomorrow the 11 starters."

The goalkeeping situation has been a recurring theme at Pellegrini press conferences since he dropped Hart last month, a decision which also sparked speculation about potential new signings.

Pellegrini told reporters: "Now when the transfer window starts you will have a lot of difficulties to know who the first-choice goalkeeper will be because we will have Casillas, Valdes, Neuer, Caballero, Begovic - so I think you will have to ask me about six new goalkeepers."


PA

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