Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini expressed his disappointment regarding the performance of his team last night against AS Roma but still believes his side can progress from the group stage.
The Chilean tactician rued a slack performance as his side drew at home leaving themselves in a precarious position in Group E. “I think that the point, maybe playing at home, is never good but [you] also have to consider that we played against a very strong team in a good moment,” Pellegrini commented in the post-match press conference.”When the other team scores, it’s not just one or two players’ problems – [Totti] had too much space in that play. Maybe the movements were not correct but today we didn’t play in the way we normally play to score goals.In the last 20 minutes it was more similar to the team we see here every week. We must keep fighting for the next 12 points and then we will see who qualifies for the next round.It will depend on how we play the next games whether we qualify. One point from six is tough but we’re just three points behind Roma. I hope next time, in Russia, we can win then we will see what happens in the other game between Bayern and CSKA. Today was not our day.”
Manchester City were visibly outnumbered in the middle of the park and only got back into the game after the introduction of second half substitutes James Milner and Frank Lampard. However, Pellegrini refused to blame his strikers, claiming that his side did not use the ball properly.”We didn’t play well in the first half – we started well in the first 25 minutes but then we lost the ball too easily,” he said. “In the way we played last game [Saturday’s 4-2 win at Hull City], we played very well with two strikers.It was not an easy decision to change from the beginning. We play a lot of games against a lot of strong teams this way and we do very well. Maybe today we started losing balls and didn’t have enough midfielders to recover it but I don’t think having two strikers on the pitch was the reason we didn’t win.The biggest problem was that we missed many easy passes.”
Francesco Totti, who became the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history with his dinked effort against Manchester City last night, felt his side deserved more in this tie. “Looking at the whole 90 minutes we had the clearer opportunities and could’ve won,” the Giallorossi captain told Sky Sport Italia.“We went down straight away to a penalty and came back into it, which wasn’t easy against one of the strongest teams in Europe.We proved what we are worth and what we can do in an arena like this. Our objective is to do our best, try to get through the group knowing it is not easy against sides like Bayern Munich and Manchester City, who are on our level if not better.Playing like this, we can get there.”
His manager Rudi Garcia also echoed Totti’s opinion and was pretty much satisfied with his side’s performance against the English champions.“We proved that we are up to the standard of this group and I am proud of my players,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia. “It was as we predicted, that we had our moments and in fact better scoring opportunities, while we suffered in the last 10 minutes because we’ve been forced to play the same men in central midfield and defence for weeks.I am satisfied to have seen a Roma side play with real character.We are still a long way off qualifying, but a point tonight leaves City three points behind us and then we have the two games with Bayern Munich.I think this result gives my players more confidence, though they already had plenty, that we can have our say in this so-called Group of Death.We have an identity, but also need great balance and the players are so good at putting what we worked on for 14 months into a match situation.We have players with immense talent, but tonight also saw they can give everything, work hard in defence and realise in these games you need to pay attention to the quality of your opponents too, especially a player like Silva.I have a lot of faith in my men. The talk before the game was that we were playing against one of the richest clubs in the world and it is a fantastic experience the lads earned with their work last season. We have team spirit and with that we can achieve great things.
A solitary point from two matches leaves Machester City five and three points behind Bayern and Roma, respectively in Group B, meaning that back-to-back victories against CSKA Moscow is an absolute must if they are to avoid a third group-stage elimination in four seasons.