Manuel Pellegrini is willing to accept the blame for Manchester City’s alarming slump, but it refusing to be drawn on speculation over his future.
The Chilean coach was the toast of England last season when, in his debut campaign at the Etihad Stadium, he led the Blues to a second Premier League title in three years and a first League Cup success since 1976. But rather than build on this double success, City have arguably gone backwards this term and are certain to end the campaign without adding to their honours list.
And all this despite some impressive performances late in the calendar year when they were able to draw level with Chelsea at the top of the table. Since then, though, they have endured a horrid run which has left them well off the pace, and has also resulted in them crashing out of the UEFA Champions League and losing at home to Championship side Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
A 4-2 defeat to neighbours United at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon was a new low for the champions, who are now 12 points behind Jose Mourinho’s side who also have a game in hand. With just 18 points left to play for City can forget any slim hopes of retaining the title, and Pellegrini is prepared to accept the responsibility for such a lame defence of the crown.
“It is my responsibility and the only way we can change this is by winning games,” he said. “I am not talking about my position. It is not important. The only way to explain our run is that we don’t have the results. We have been first or second the whole year and now we are fourth but United and Arsenal have to play against Chelsea. We have 18 more points to play for. We must not be dramatic.”
Such has their form dipped in recent weeks, if Liverpool beat Newcastle United on Monday night the Reds will be just four points adrift of Pellegrini’s side in the race for the final Champions League place. On paper, it is fair to say City probably have the easier run-in of the two teams, who this time last year were going head-to-head not for fourth place, but the league title.