Joe Hart insists that Manuel Pellegrini is still the right man to inspire struggling Manchester City

In the last week, the champions have lost to West Ham and been knocked out of the League Cup - and now have the derby with United looming before resuming their stuttering Champions League campaign

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Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has insisted Manuel Pellegrini is the man to take the side forward, declaring his methods were proven and that not all clubs require a manager who “smashes the room up”.

City are privately relaxed about Pellegrini’s ability to deliver them to the next level, despite a record of four wins in 12, Wednesday night’s exit from the Capital One Cup and a sense that Manchester United enter Sunday’s Etihad derby with more momentum and confidence.

But defeat to Louis van Gaal’s side and another poor performance against CSKA Moscow next Wednesday would leave City nine points adrift of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and out of the Champions League.

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Hart insisted that the players had confidence in the Chilean, despite suffering two defeats and the sacrifice of a 2-0 lead to draw in Moscow in the space of eight days. “He knows his methods and his ways and we’ve proved in the past playing his way works,” the goalkeeper said. “So we just need to play it better and we will be fine. I think we’ve set up a good basis. In the last two or three games we’ve stumbled a bit.”

A knee injury sustained by David Silva, a vitally needed component for Sunday, is being assessed, and with such injuries requiring 24 hours to settle down it remained unclear whether Pellegrini’s decision to play him four days before a derby will backfire.

Match analyst Danny Higginbotham argues today that Pellegrini’s City have been “found out” by opponents in their second season under his command and that his inability to find an alternative strategy is dragging City back.

In the 12 games City have trailed at half-time under Pellegrini they have won three, losing the remaining nine and never drawing. “It’s one thing to have your way of playing found out. It’s something else entirely to have no alternative strategy. City’s Plan A is 4-4-2,” Higginbotham writes. “Their Plan B is frustration.”

City’s anaemic display against Alan Pardew’s side suggested they simply lacked the motivation to fight to retain the Capital One Cup.

Though the club’s summer spending was far more organised than United’s last-minute spree, Pellegrini’s major problem has been the failure of the new arrivals to make an impact. Frank Lampard, on loan from City’s New York sister club, has been the best addition by far. The decision to loan out Alvaro Negredo to Valencia seems questionable, though the Spaniard is only just returning from injury.

But Hart backed the manager’s less combative approach. “He’s not an actor,” Hart told Sky Sports. “That’s who he is. It’s how he portrays himself in the media, but he doesn’t change when he speaks to us. It’s a good thing to have a constant. We know what kind of a guy he is and what he expects from us. Someone doesn’t have to smash the room up to show you they’re disappointed. He’s got his standards that we try to live up to, and if we don’t we’re just as disappointed as he is.”