Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that the club’s chances of progressing in the Champions League are in jeopardy and rest on their next game in Moscow, after they once against surrendered the chance to open a home campaign with a win.
City’s match in the Russian capital on October 21 will be a challenging one - and it may be a surreal atmosphere, with CSKA will discover on Friday whether UEFA will force them to pay it behind closed doors, because of violent conduct from their fans in Roma. The Russians will be fired up after City’s valid accusations that their fans had racially abused Yaya Toure, when the teams met in Moscow last season.
Asked if one point from City’s opening two matches made it difficult to qualify for the knock-out stage, Pellegrini said: “We don’t know. It depends on how we play the next game. We have just one point from six but we are just three points behind Roma so we hope next game in Russia we can win. We have 12 more points to fight [for] and we will fight to the end to try and qualify.”
Pellegrini accepted that his side had given a substandard performance as they once again failed to start a Champions League home campaign with a win, admitting that the side gave away possession and lacked the midfielders to recover it. “Maybe today we were not accurate in our passing and when we lost too many balls we did not have enough midfielders to recover. I think the most problem was we lost many easy passes.”
The atmosphere in the Etihad was low-key, with Independent columnist Paul Scholes repeating his claim in the ITV studio that he has already made in this newspaper: that City’s players need a better atmosphere. Scholes said: “The crowd need to get behind this team they need to create a special European atmosphere.
“I was lucky enough to play at Old Trafford and we always talked about the atmosphere on a Tuesday night, the special atmosphere you create, and the crowd is rocking when you go out for a warm up. At quarter past seven there's empty seats everywhere. When you come here it just doesn't have a European night feel to it.” Pellegrini said this was not the cause of City failing to win the game.
“Of course if you have a great atmosphere it is always better for the team,” he said. “But we cannot be concerned about the noise the fans give because they always give very good noise. I don’t think that was an important thing why we didn’t win the game today.”
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