Manuel Pellegrini has implied that Liverpool and Chelsea would have struggled to challenge for the title which Manchester City are on the brink of clinching, if they had been without Luis Suarez or Eden Hazard as often as he has lost Sergio Aguero to injury this season.
The Chilean manager said that his own ability to adapt after being hit by persistent injuries to his core players was "one of my best achievements in this season".
Pellegrini has Aguero fit again to face West Ham on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium but Aguero, Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Yaya Touré have played only 216 minutes of football together this season and started only six games. Aguero has started 19 league games.
"I don't want to compare other teams but… Kun Aguero he missed 14 or 15 games in the Premier League," Pellegrini said. "You take Suarez out for 15 games for Liverpool or Hazard from Chelsea or [Santi] Cazorla from Arsenal maybe...
"But I think all the teams have injured players during the year. You cannot think what will happen if that player was in the squad. Other players played very well and that's why I'm happy with the squad this year."
Pellegrini resolutely refused to reflect on the Premier League season, declaring seven times that he would discuss specific issues relating to the season after Sunday's game. He would be pushed only as far as to say that City had played the best football. "I think so yes," he declared, insisting that City's failure to pass Uefa's Financial Fair Play test and allegations they had bought the title were "for another day".
David Silva has revealed that City felt they had blown the title when they drew with Sunderland 24 days ago, and had doubts as Liverpool laid siege to their goal late on at Anfield three weeks ago.
"I suppose you'd have to say [we doubted we'd win it in] the last few minutes against Liverpool," Silva said. "They got the winner from an error. So you start to doubt it. But you learn that it's such a competitive league, you just have to keep going."