Football

PELLEGRINI FRETS OVER POST-TITLE BLUES

The spectre of a disastrous season following a title-winning campaign continues to hang over Manchester City, despite their comfortable opening 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Sunday.

Three years ago, City claimed their first top-flight title in 44 years under Italian Roberto Mancini but were off the pace during their defence the following season, finishing well behind local rivals Manchester United in second spot.

Last season brought another league crown to the Etihad Stadium in manager Manuel Pellegrini's first campaign at the club, and he said they could not afford to rest on their laurels if they hoped to avoid another letdown.

"This team won the title two years ago and the next season was a disaster, it wasn't a useful year for anyone," the Chilean (below) told the BBC.

"Last season, Manchester United had a disaster (finished seventh) after winning the title.

"It's important from the beginning that we understand we won the title last season and need to win again this year."

City were not at their thrilling best at St James' Park, with some players not up to full fitness and Newcastle showing some steel that was missing for much of last season.

However, their attacking riches proved the difference, Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko combining to set up David Silva before half-time and Sergio Aguero adding a second late on.

"It's very difficult to compare each year. Maybe last year a lot of people doubted we could win the title because it was my first season here in the Premier League," Pellegrini said.

"Today, we have one year more working with the players and we have a strong squad.

"You have five or six teams who can win the title, so we need the same attitude, the hunger with which we have started the season and the same humility in every game.

"I am sure this squad can fight, and we will see at the end of the season which titles we will win."

Pellegrini was also confident that City will be stronger for the trip to Liverpool next Tuesday morning (Singapore time) after working with players who were given an extended break after the World Cup in Brazil.

The Chilean said: "Of course, it will be very important for us to have one week more.

"Maybe we also have to give minutes to other players and we will see during the week which 11 starters we are going to play against Liverpool. We have a lot of players for whom one week more will be very useful." 
- Wire Services.