Tuesday 26 August 2014
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed the importance of Monday's triumph over Liverpool after an interrupted pre-season.
The defending champions maintained their perfect start to the Barclays Premier League campaign with an emphatic 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
City, who finished two points clear of Liverpool last term, were indebted to Stevan Jovetic's brace and substitute Sergio Aguero's strike as the Manchester outfit sent out an ominous warning to their title rivals, only slightly blotting their copybook with a Pablo Zabaleta own goal in the final throes of the match.
"We were not only patient but played with concentration and intensity"
And even at such an early stage of the 2014/15 campaign, Pellegrini said he understood the importance of winning back-to-back matches, having been forced to alter his pre-season preparations due to the effect on many of his players of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
"It is important to have six points in the first two games," he said. "It was a difficult start for us with some [players] with 15 days working.
"I said before that these games are games of six points especially when you play at home. It's very important not to drop points against important teams and I think that Liverpool is an important team that will be fighting for the title.
Pellegrini added: "I think the way we worked for the whole game, we played a very good team, a very offensive team. We worked without the ball for 95 minutes and with the ball, [we] did enough to create three goals. We were not only patient but played with concentration and intensity. It is a pity they scored a goal, but that was a mistake."
Monday's outing also highlighted the quality of Montenegro international Jovetic after an injury-ravaged season in 2013/14. Jovetic arrived from Fiorentina in a big-money deal but injuries limited the striker to just 11 BPL appearances in the club's championship-winning campaign.
Though the City faithful are finally getting a taste of what the 24-year-old has to offer, having put his injury woes behind him with five goals during pre-season.
"He was unlucky with injuries and it was difficult to play two or three games in a row, he was patient and has worked hard to come again," said Pellegrini. "I know he's a very good player, I am very happy for him because he deserves it."
Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, insisted Liverpool's defeat to the side who pipped them to the title last season did not represent a "psychological blow" and is confident his side will bounce back.
"I think up until the 40th minute we were the best team but we switched off in the final period," he said. "We didn't defend it well enough and were 1-0 down. At 2-0 it is difficult for us, but to our credit we kept going.
"There is no psychological blow, there is a long way to go"
"I felt we needed to be quicker in our actions in the final third, we needed to be more dynamic, but we looked a threat, which is important.
"This is a difficult place to come, but we will continue to work, we'll get better, it just wasn't our night. There is no psychological blow, there is a long way to go. It was a tough game but we'll move on.
"In the corresponding fixtures from last season, Southampton and Man City, we had no points, so we've got three points, we weren’t so good second half, but it’s not going to hurt us, we've just got to refocus and look ahead to the weekend."
Rodgers will hope to unleash new signing Mario Balotelli to improve their play in attack after the Italian completed his signing from AC Milan earlier in the day.
"Balotelli is a world class talent and it's an area we needed to strengthen," added Rodgers. "It's a calculated risk but hopefully we can bring him in and improve him as a player and a young man. I think he can do very well for us."
"He knows he's part of a team, there's no big egos or 'Big-time Charlies' in this group and he knows he's got to fit into the culture of this club."