Manuel Pellegrini facing Manchester City sack for Champions League form

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Manuel Pellegrini must now be walking a very thin tightrope after watching his Manchester City side fail to win a third consecutive Champions League game, which leaves their hopes of qualification to the knockout phase of Europe's elite club competition in 2014/15 hanging by a thread.

The Citizens shot into a two-goal lead against CSKA Moscow in the behind-closed-doors clash at Arena Khimkion on Tuesday night, but were caught cold when the Russian Premier League outfit hit back with two second-half strikes to claim a share of the spoils.

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The 2-2 draw in Russia leaves Pellegrini's men languishing in third place in Group E, with just two points at the halfway point of the first round stage, with Bayern Munich and AS Roma both now favourites to progress.

Despite a promising performance in their opening match at the Allianz Arena, City fell to a 1-0 defeat against Pep Guardiola's side after former player Jerome Boateng came back to haunt them with a 90th minute winner, heaping pressure on the team to record victory against their Serie 'A' opponents at the Etihad Stadium in the previous round of fixtures.

However, a dispiriting 1-1 draw with Roma left the Chilean coach with just one solitary point after two games, and after last night's result Manchester City will now likely need to win all of their remaining matches if they are to advance to the last-16.

Uncertain future

Failure to do so must certainly raise doubts about Pellegrini's long-term future, having been brought in primarily to improve the club's fortunes in Europe.

The South American successfully claimed a Premier League and League Cup double during his debut season in England last term, as well as taking City to the knockout stage of the Champions League before being knocked out by Barcelona by a 4-1 aggregate scoreline in the last-16.

Although disappointing, that represented progress for a club that had failed to advance from their group in either of their two previous appearances in the competition, but City had been expected to kick on again, even after being placed in another difficult pool of teams this season.

Speaking after last night's stalemate, Pellegrini admitted that his players under performed after the interval, and his refusal to criticise Hungarian referee Istvan Vad for the controversial penalty he awarded to CSKA Moscow in the 86th minute was telling that the former Malaga coach knew his team have not been good enough.

"We didn't play well in the second half," he was quoted saying by the Daily Telegraph. "Maybe there was an excess of trust or that it was so cold that it was very difficult for the players to continue to have motivation for the whole game.

"It seemed so easy in the first half, but games are for 95 minutes. We played very well in the first half, but maybe it was too cold in the second half.

"I don't want to find excuses about what happened, the cold was same first half as second half. Maybe in the second half, for different reasons, we didn't do it."

However, despite Pellegrini's clear frustration in the aftermath of the match, outwardly at least he appears to remain upbeat about Manchester City's chances of progression.

"We lost an important two points for the future, but we have nine points more to play for, so I hope we can reach the next stage.

"I trust in this group [of players] and I'm sure we are going to qualify for the next stage. After that, we can talk in December about different things."

Those December talks are likely to be significantly more frosty if Manchester City fail to qualify for the next stage. It's not unreasonable to suggest that Pellegrini will lose his job on that basis, regardless of how well they are performing domestically.

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