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Pellegrini's change of plan

05 Jan 2014 08:01:54

Pellegrini's change of plan

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed a planned trip to Abu Dhabi will not take place after his side were taken to an FA Cup replay by Blackburn.

The Abu Dhabi-owned club had been expected to play a friendly against Al Ain FC on January 14 and combine the trip with a week's warm-weather training.

The fixture had been publicised in the United Arab Emirates but City had not confirmed the plans - and there is now no gap in schedule for it to take place.

City will instead host Rovers in a third-round replay that week after they were left hanging on for a 1-1 draw with 10 men at Ewood Park.

Alvaro Negredo had put them on course for a place in the fourth round but Scott Dann responded after a Costel Pantilimon mistake and City had Dedryck Boyata sent off late on.

City are still involved in four competitions this season but Pellegrini said he did not know if his team would be better suited playing a replay or training in the UAE.

He said: "You never know what is better.

"We were going to be travelling to Abu Dhabi and having a friendly match there, now we are going to play against Blackburn Rovers at home.

"What is better? It is impossible to know.

"It (the replay) is not an extra problem. We have to play another match and have the squad to do it but we will continue making the rotation, that is better for the squad."

Rovers threw caution to the wind in search of victory in the closing stages and threatened a winner through Tom Cairney and Jordan Rhodes.

Pellegrini denied his team were fortunate to still be in the competition.

He said: "We were not lucky. It was a very close match and I think we had more clear options than Blackburn but we played against a very strong team who were at home.

"They had a lot of motivation and that is normal when you have a Championship team playing against a Premier League team.

"I'm not disappointed. Of course, everyone wants to win all of the games but we were playing against a very strong team at home.

"I am sure if they played like that in the Championship they would be in another position in the table.

"I would be disappointed if we lost and were out of the FA Cup but we are not out and we must play at home."

There were claims that Pellegrini intended to take off Edin Dzeko with the score 1-1 in the second half but the wrong player's number was held up and Negredo was substituted instead.

Asked if a mistake occurred, Pellegrini said: "No."

Pellegrini was not critical of goalkeeper Pantilimon, who returned to the side for the tie after recently losing his place to Joe Hart.

The Chilean said: "I will analyse the game with the players, as a collective team.

"Maybe (he dropped the ball) but always the individual performance makes the team performance, so I analyse what the individual players do with them."

Pellegrini added he had "no complaints" about Boyata's dismissal for a second bookable offence.

A number of Rovers players impressed, not least Cairney and Rudy Gestede, just a day after making their loans from Hull and Cardiff respectively permanent.

Former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson, playing his first game in 13 months and now fully recovered after a blood clot on his lung, also made some crucial saves.

Rovers manager Gary Bowyer said: "It was an absolutely phenomenal effort from our lads playing against a world-class team and they restored some pride in the club today.

"We always knew it was going to be a very difficult challenge but the spirit that they have and the character they are developing because it's a young squad that is improving but you could see the unity they have together.

"That has been important for us throughout the season. I have nothing but pride and praise for them.

"It would be wrong to single out individuals but on this occasion, and the fact that Paul has not played for so long, he made some crucial saves for us in the second half and his experience helped us massively."


PA

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