London – Manuel Pellegrini has warned Manchester City that he cannot afford to have a slow start in the Barclays Premier League title race.
City’s new coach only arrived in England at the end of June and has had to bed in £90million-worth of new signings acquired over the summer.
But after seeing rivals Manchester United and Chelsea open the season with victories, Pellegrini acknowledged that time is a luxury City do not have as he takes charge of his first league game at home to Newcastle tonight.
“Now we have a new era with some new players,” said the Chilean. “Of course, the new players, and the manager and staff, all need time to get to know each other and I’m sure that we will improve as the season progresses – but we do not have that time. We have to hit the ground running and that starts against Newcastle.”
Of the three managerial changes made at the top of the Premier League this summer, only City went for a coach with no experience in this country. But Pellegrini dismissed suggestions that it will hand an advantage to David Moyes and Jose Mourinho.
“No, I don’t think it can be a problem for me,” he added. “I have a lot of experience in different countries and know a lot of things about the Premier League. For me, it’s the best league in Europe.”
The 59-year-old’s impressive CV in 25 years as a coach includes brief stints with Real Madrid and River Plate. Asked if taking over at City, where he has been tasked with winning five trophies in five years, is his toughest challenge yet, he replied: “I’m excited about my new job but I don’t want to compare. To manage River Plate in Argentina is not easy. To manage Real Madrid in Spain is not easy.
“We have a strong squad to try to win it all – FA Cup, Capital One Cup, Champions League and Premier League.
“My target is that Manchester City must improve in all aspects. Last season it was a pity that they didn’t win at least the FA Cup.”
Worryingly, City conceded eight goals in their last three pre-season fixtures to AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Arsenal. Goalkeeper Joe Hart has also been criticised over his performance for England against Scotland last week.
Having strengthened his squad by signing Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic this summer, Pellegrini warned reputation will be no guarantee of a first-team place.
“My teams do not play by name, they play by performance,” he said. “We always play the players who are giving the best performance and in the best moment.” – Daily Mail