Manuel Pellegrini took no pleasure in being proved correct but Manchester City’s surprise 2-1 home defeat to West Ham illustrated his belief that the Premier League title is far from over.
The league leaders saw their 11-match winning streak brought to an end thanks to first half goals from Victor Moses and Diafra Sakho for a West Ham side that has won all three of their away games this season — at Arsenal, Liverpool and, now, City.
The day started with City having the potential to move 14 points clear of defending champions Chelsea had results gone their way.
Instead, Slaven Bilic’s West Ham moved to within three points of City despite Kevin De Bruyne’s goal late in the first half giving the home side hope of continuing their unbeaten ways.
“We never believed, because we won five games, we were champions of the Premier League,” said Pellegrini.
“We have to play 32 games more, 96 more points, so nobody can believe that.”
City were without injured captain and defender Vincent Kompany as well as influential forward David Silva, who picked up a calf injury in the pre-game warm-up.
Pellegrini refused to use their absences as an excuse and, instead, criticised his team’s collective lack of concentration for their defensive woes and mistakes.
“I dona t want to compare one season with another because we have just started this season,” he said.
“But we have lost two games where we haven’t played with the concentration and intensity we need in defending. So we conceded twice against Juventus (in the Champions League), they had two shots and we conceded two goals. And today, exactly the same.
“There was one shot from the edge of the box, one corner. That was the whole offensive volume of West Ham during the whole game. So we must be concentrating more because two balls decided the result.
“I dona t want to make excuses about David Silva. We didna t win and I dona t think one player could change history. David has a kick on his calf, he tried it in the warm-up but he felt his muscle so he didna t play.”
Bilic was clearly delighted by yet another eye-catching victory although he jokingly bristled at suggestions that such success was now so common place that it did not represent a surprise.
“It is a surprise,” insisted Bilic. “This game was different to the games at Emirates and Anfield because, with the greatest respect to Arsenal and Liverpool, this team is the best in the league.
“We knew it was going to be like this, we knew we were going to have to score to get something from the game but we did it. We didn’t nick it.
“This will do our confidence good but there is a tiny line between confidence and arrogance or between confidence and a little bit of laziness. It’s hard not to get carried away.”
He added: “That’s the key. We know there are going to be ups and downs — wea re not Real Madrid — but it is looking very good now. I’m so proud of everyone and everything connected with this great club.”