Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini arrives to the match against Swansea City on Sunday, the final day of the Premier League season. Tom Dulat / Getty Images / May 15, 2016
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini arrives to the match against Swansea City on Sunday, the final day of the Premier League season. Tom Dulat / Getty Images / May 15, 2016

Pellegrini admits Man City spirit was ‘not the best’ after Pep Guardiola news



Manuel Pellegrini, with his last match as Manchester City manager in the books, finally seemed to acknowledge this season he had lost command of the club in the wake of the announcement Pep Guardiola would be taking over for next year.

Pellegrini's final act as City manager was to steer the club into top-four safety with a 1-1 draw against Swansea City on Sunday. The result effectively guaranteed fourth place in the Premier League and Champions League qualification at the expense of Manchester United, who are three points behind them with a goal difference of only plus-12 compared to plus-30 for Pellegrini's men.

But it was a very much a crawl to the finish for City, who limply faded from the title picture and just barely held on for an advantage over United.

Following the announcement, made February 1, Pellegrini's side won six, drew four and lost five to finish the league campaign. That included three losses in four league matches directly following the announcement, two of which were to title rivals Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

• Read more: In battle for fourth, Manchester United and Manchester City display similar patterns of decline

• Also see: Nigeria's Kelechi Iheanacho secures Manchester City's passage into the Champions League – in pictures

The club did recover to reach the Champions League semi-finals and win the League Cup, and Pellegrini has insisted for months the announcement had no effect.

But, with his tenure officially now finished, there was a slight change in his tune on Sunday.

“I wanted to win the Premier League, but the atmosphere from February when the club announced the new manager was maybe not the best,” Pellegrini said.

“The only option was to get to the Champions League for next year.”

In Sunday’s finale, which required of City a point to ensure they would be safely among the top four, they took the lead as Kelechi Iheanacho slotted home in the fifth minute after Sergio Aguero’s shot was pushed into the young Nigeria striker’s path.

Swansea equalised in first-half stoppage time through Andre Ayew, whose free-kick deflected in off City midfielder Fernando, but the visitors held on to ensure Pellegrini departed on a high, with outgoing Bayern Munich manager Guardiola now set to replace him in the close-season.

Pellegrini arrived at the Etihad Stadium from La Liga club Malaga in the summer of 2013, and he proceeded to win the Premier League title in his first season in charge as part of a double with the League Cup. He never saw such success again in the league, with City finishing runners-up to Chelsea last season, but he did lead the club to uncharted territory with their advance into the European Cup final four this year.

He finishes his tenure in Manchester with exactly 100 victories in 167 matches, a 59.9 percentage.

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