Manuel Pellegrini rues Manchester City's lack of creativity

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It's hard to imagine a team containing the likes of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero could lack creativity, but that's exactly what Manuel Pellegrini has accused his Manchester City side of.

The Premier League champions needed a last minute free-kick from the usually goal-shy James Milner to earn a 1-1 draw with Hull on Saturday, and Pellegrini has put it down to a lack of ideas.

Even with Silva, Nasri, Aguero and Edin Dzeko starting, City failed to break down a stubborn Hull defence, and the introduction of Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic did little to change that.

An unlikely hero

With just seconds remaining on the clock City finally ended Hull's resilience thanks to Milner's superbly executed free kick.

The midfielder would usually find himself way down the pecking order at dead-ball situations, but with Yaya Toure on international duty and Silva having already been withdrawn he had the chance to show what he could do.

Pellegrini's unusual claim

And he took his opportunity with aplomb, bending in a fine finish to end a Premier League goal drought that had stretched back to December 2013.

Given the stores of attacking talent at his disposal, Pellegrini surprised many by telling BBC Sport: "I think we tried always to find the space but we couldn't. We have a lack of ideas.

"If you see the team you don't see that we are tired or that we are not fighting; we run a lot and have a lot of possession.

"We really played and I think the team has order and spirit but we don't have the creative players in this moment to create the space and it is very difficult against a team like Hull, who defend very well."

City shuffled the pack

Having scored just once in their previous three games Pellegrini opted to change formation, introducing Dzeko as a second striker alongside Aguero, but the City boss admitted the alteration had little affect.

"Before this game, with Jesus Navas and with Milner as wingers we didn't score against Arsenal or against Middlesbrough so we tried to make a change, but we still didn't create many chances," he said.

"The only way to put it right is to keep working and have a clear diagnostic of what we must improve."

Who can City turn to?

With the crucial Champions League last 16 first leg tie against Barcelona less than three weeks away, Pellegrini must find the answer, and quickly.

His cause will be helped by the return of Ivory Coast duo Toure and Wilfried Bony who should be back in time to face Newcastle a week on Saturday, although the mid-week trip to Stoke could come too soon.

Despite not being at his best this campaign, Toure's importance to the City team has been highlighted by their failure to win a league game during his absence.

While City may have struggled while they've been away, Toure and Bony will return in high spirits having helped Ivory Coast end their 23-year wait for African Cup of Nations glory.

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James Milner
Manchester City
David Silva
Sergio Aguero
Premier League
Samir Nasri
Gnegneri Toure Yaya

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