Manchester City’s Champions League nightmare moved closer to becoming reality yesterday when they were held to a home draw by Arsenal.
City will be excluded from Europe’s elite when new manager Pep Guardiola takes over this summer if Manchester United win their two remaining Premier League matches to claim a top-four place. United play their game in hand at West Ham tomorrow and can knock Manuel Pellegrini’s side out of the Champions League spots for the first time this season with just one match to go.
Pellegrini said: ‘If you don’t depend just on what you can do, it is more difficult. But we will see what happens between Manchester
United and West Ham. We are not finished this season. We deserve to be in the Champions League because we have had 37 games (in the top four).’
Pellegrini’s last home game before handing over to Guardiola fell flat as City missed the opportunity to go level with third-placed Arsenal, who twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw.
The club’s hierarchy looked on stony-faced from the directors’ box as the players embarked on a sombre lap of honour in front of the 10,000 fans who had bothered to stay and show appreciation.
Pellegrini, who has won the Premier League title and Capital One Cup twice during his three years at the Etihad, was given the option to cancel a farewell address on the pitch but chose to do it anyway.
Sky Sports pundit and former City striker Niall Quinn said: ‘This sums up the flatness that surrounds the club. City were in aChampions League semi-final on Wednesday and the fans don’t feel the need to stay behind and applaud the team. They stayed behind when we got relegated (in 1996) to give a “well done”. There’s been a breakdown in the relationship, belief and passion they inherited with the (Abu Dhabi) money coming in.’
Graeme Souness added on Sky: ‘You’re seeing the stadium now. There might be maximum 10,000 City fans in here. They have voted with their feet. They are deeply disappointed with what their team have served up this year.
‘Pellegrini inherits a team that can win things and spends net £200million. He’s leaving today and how much further down the road are they now?’ – Daily Mail