Manuel Pellegrini refused to accept that his tactics and squad selection were the reason Manchester City suffered yet another shock defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic, turning the onus on his team’s lethargic play instead.
The Chilean left out captain Vincent Kompany in the Blues' 2-1 defeat at the Etihad, opting for the pairing of Joleon Lescott and Martin Demichelis in the heart of the defence. But how he would rue that decision when Demichelis was bamboozled by Marc Antoine Fortune and the Argentine bundled him over in the area.
Jordi Gomez stroked in the ensuing penalty though that was just the beginning of his troubles as City simply didn’t appear ready to match Wigan’s passion and there was no-one there to rally the troops, leading Pellegrini to declare that it was as if his team had taken part in two different games within those 90 minutes.
“I think we played had two games,” said the manager. From the first minute until their second goal we had no intensity. It was the worst first half we’ve had all year.
“We didn’t have the tempo needed against a team that is in very good form at the moment. Maybe we thought that it was going to be an easy game and when we reacted it was too late”
“We knew exactly how Wigan were going to play so it wasn’t a tactical problem, so I think it was a pace problem in the first 65 minutes. If we don’t have the same intensity as these teams then it’s very difficult to win.
“After this game it’s difficult to say we were unlucky but I think we deserved at least a draw because we had 3 or 4 clear chances to score.”
Meanwhile, his opposite number Uwe Rosler credited former boss Roberto Martinez for the victory, saying: “I started with Roberto’s tactics because last season he put out a very brave game plan and they went on to win the FA Cup. We tried to replicate parts of it by bringing in our own identity with pressing, counter attacking football and willingness to attack the far post without wing-backs.
“I think in the first half we surprised Manchester City because a lot of teams tend to show them a lot of respect at home and deservedly so. But I felt if we sat back and just tried to defend, hoping for the best, then we would have no chance.
“The only chance we had was to keep the ball, even in dangerous positions and I admire the bravery and composure my players showed. We haven’t come here and just parked the bus, we actually came here and played great football.
“At some point you need luck to win here, but I felt justice was done. Overall I feel absolutely delighted not just because of we won, but how we won.”
Pellegrini will now have to pick up whatever is left of his Manchester City team for the final push of the season as they trail leaders Chelsea by nine points in the Premier League.
Fortunately for them their fate is in their own hands as they have played three games less than Jose Mourinho’s team and have a superior goal difference.
First up though is a trip to Spain for the return leg in the Champion’s League against Barcelona. However their chances of survival are slim to none as the Manchester outfit face 2-0 deficit, heading into the Nou Camp.
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