Manuel Pellegrini insists Manchester City’s midweek trip to Abu Dhabi was not to blame for crashing out of the FA Cup – putting the issue down to lack of strikers.
City hosted Championship side Middlesbrough at the Etihad on Saturday and it was Aitor Karanka’s men who grabbed a famous 2-0 victory.
It was the second consecutive game City have failed to score at home and this factor was preying on the manager’s mind.
Pellegrini said: “It’s easy to have an excuse, but I don’t think that [Abu Dhabi trip] was the case.
“We conceded two goals in four of our last five home games – we need to recover our performances, both attacking and defending.
“The problem is we’ve had to change our style of play – we had no strikers for a month.
“After that, they’re coming back and maybe they needed time to reach their best performances but we have to retain the way we normally play.”
The Chilean will now focus on a crunch match against Chelsea next weekend and a win would reduce the deficit in the Premier League table to just two points.
However, it was a major concern for Pellegrini that they could not convert chances after goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike sent them crashing out.
“We had six or seven clear chances to score – we played well in the first-half,” Pellegrini added.
“After they scored, we were disordered, they had a counter attack and they scored again late on.
“Before they scored, we did well – after that, I think Middlesbrough deserve to continue in the cup as they played very well.
“It’s a strange game to analyse – there were two games in one.”
City face an uphill task now for a trophy, having to overcome Chelsea in the league and Barcelona next month to keep their Champions League dreams alive.
Main image courtesy of Alex Morton/Action Images, with thanks.