Manchester City chief Manuel Pellegrini praises Norwich City
06:30 10 February 2014
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Manuel Pellegrini is confident his misfiring Manchester City will ride out the storm to maintain their Premier League title push.
The Chilean’s side found Norwich far less charitable than in the reverse fixture at the Etihad with the Canaries proving just as resolute as Chelsea who ended the Blues’ peerless winning home record prior to their trip east.
Pellegrini revealed he had to push Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko through the pain barrier with Sergio Aguero (hamstring) sidelined for the next fortnight.
“I was concerned about this match and it was exactly the same when we played Chelsea because we have a lot of players who are not 100pc fit,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a missed opportunity because I think Norwich played a very good game. They defended very well and we couldn’t score. I’m frustrated as we went there to win. People are talking a lot about the number of goals we have scored but we have also defended well. The most important thing is to be able to score goals. The last two games I am absolutely sure the reason is because of injuries to our three strikers and without that you cannot win a game. Yes, Norwich had some chances at the end but you expect that as the home team. They could not score also but we had three or four clear chances before that. We did all we good, but maybe we were not as creative I would like.”
Pellegrini was also forced to check the marauding influence of key midfielder Yaya Toure, to cope with the loss of Brazilian international Fernandinho.
“Toure played in a defensive role and that’s why we lost a little bit in attack, but at the moment that is what we have to do because Fernandinho and (Javi) Garcia are not fit,” he said. “We did not have another midfielder who could play in that position. It’s exactly the same with our strikers, with Negredo and Dzeko. They are not 100pc. Dzeko has an ankle in a very bad condition, which is why he played just 30 minutes, and Negredo has a problem with a shoulder but they had to play in that condition..”
Toure’s frustrations saw the Ivorian launch a petulant stoppage time kick at the lower back of Ricky van Wolfswinkel which sparked an angry response from the Dutchman.
Neither manager saw the incident in real-time but Pellegrini did not fear retrospective action against his African footballer-of-the-year.
“No, no. I am not concerned about that,” he said. “No, I didn’t see it,” which was also Hughton’s initial reaction. “I must admit I haven’t seen that incident,” said the Norwich chief. “What I would say is Ricky is a strong character and he would not react if he didn’t feel something had happened. He is not one for complaining. I haven’t spoken to him so I am not aware of that. I’m sure if that is the case enough people will have seen it.”
Manchester City’s recent stumbles have seen them cede the title initiative to Chelsea, but Pellegrini is primed for plenty more twists.
“All teams at the top will drop points. I said from the very beginning this Premier League title will be a fight until the end with five or six teams. The difference will be very slight,” he said. “Everyone is talking about Chelsea and Arsenal but Liverpool are near. The difference is two points, the same as last week, and there are 39 to play for and we will win as many of them as we can and fight for them. I don’t think we have been affected by the Chelsea result. I think the team is more affected by everyone not being 100% fit. In this game we found a very good team. I repeat, Norwich played very, very well.”