Football

Toure still mourning brother's death: Pellegrini

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes Yaya Toure's form could be suffering as he comes to terms with his brother's death.

And Pellegrini, whose renowned man-management skills were a key factor in his appointment at the Etihad Stadium, has offered the club's full support to his star midfielder.

Pellegrini's thoughts throw a different light on Toure's below-par performances in the opening weeks of the new season.

The Ivorian has not matched the standards he set during a brilliant 2013-14 campaign, with critics coming out in force after last Wednesday's Champions League loss at Bayern Munich.

The 31-year-old's fitness, body language, commitment and defensive work were all questioned after a particularly ineffectual second-half display at the Allianz Arena. There were also suggestions the City talisman could be past his best.

Toure's disappointing form comes after a turbulent summer in which he criticised the club and speculation arose over his future.

But Pellegrini insists those issues have not affected him and any lack of edge could be down to the impact of the loss of his younger brother Ibrahim to cancer in June.

Pellegrini said: "He is a player who makes a difference in big games.

"Maybe some of you think it's strange he is not in the best moment, but we started the season and maybe he had a lot of personal problems with his brother, not what was said in the media, but in what he feels about it. There are a lot of human things and maybe that is why he is not in his best performance at the moment.

"I think as a team, as a coach, as a club we must support him because he is a very important player. He makes a difference and I'm sure he will return to his best."

Pellegrini claims criticism is nothing new to Toure.

The Chilean said: "I think Yaya in the last season, when he was in his best moment, always received criticism about how he plays.

"It is very easy to say he should score 20 goals but must also defend and have better pace, and a lot of (other) things. I don't think Yaya has any problem." - PA Sport.