Tuesday 12 August 2014
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says he never once doubted that his side would clinch the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League title but he does accept that the weekend Liverpool lost to Chelsea and his side beat Crystal Palace was the key turning point in their triumph.
To see a video of Manuel Pellegrini's reflections on last season go to review.premierleague.com
Ahead of the defence of City's title, which starts with a trip to Newcastle United this Sunday, Pellegrini reflected on a memorable campaign that hinged on a tricky away match in south London in late April.
"In the dressing room five to 10 minutes before the game there was an injection of trust within the squad"
Six points adrift of table-topping Liverpool with four matches to play, City's players watched events at Anfield unfold on the television screens at Selhurst Park as Chelsea's Demba Ba and Willian scored to deal a blow to the Reds' title charge. It meant that City, who also had an additional match in hand, could halve the Merseysiders' lead by overcoming Palace.
"It was very important because in that moment we [could] depend [on ourselves) again until the end of the season," Pellegrini said in the 2013/14 Season Review. "We were in the dressing room five to 10 minutes before the game and there was an injection of trust within the squad. We had to play two games away and two games at home but I think from that moment it wasn't very difficult that we were going to do it."
The Chelsea victory had been just the fillip Pellegrini's charges required to strengthen their belief of catching Brendan Rodgers' side and City duly overcame the Eagles 2-0 thanks to first-half goals by Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure.
"That was the key moment," Pellegrini said. "During the season there was the week [in March] when we played against Manchester United and Arsenal; it was very difficult to play two away games and we got four points from six. After that, when we won against Hull, when in the eighth minute Vincent Kompany was sent off and the team showed very good character and personality in that game. And then there was the game against Crystal Palace."
"I was sure Liverpool would drop points"
City had led the standings in December and January during a rollercoaster campaign in which the league lead changed 25 times but they had ceded the initiative to Liverpool when losing at the home of their title rivals earlier in the month. But Pellegrini insisted that the 3-2 reverse at Anfield never dented the belief they would reclaim the Barclays Premier League trophy they had lifted two years previously.
"It was a difficult season in all senses," he said. "Not only because we won two titles – the Capital One Cup and Premier League – but also the way we really were [able] to complete the season. We had difficult moments, especially in the last part of the season when we lost against Liverpool, but it's double the merit of the squad as it's not easy to do anything in this competition."
The Anfield loss was followed by a 2-2 draw at home to struggling Sunderland but Pellegrini never considered his side to be out of the reckoning.
"No, I never thought that," he said. "I was sure Liverpool would drop points. I talked with the players after the game at Liverpool and said that we didn't deserve to lose it but we lost it for different reasons. We still had to play six more games and Liverpool had just five [sic four] games, so I immediately told the players we cannot give up and hope Liverpool would drop points. We won the last five games in a row so we never lost the trust and that was very important in the final rush at the end."
Pellegrini will be hoping his side show the same resolve for the start of the new season by bouncing back from Sunday’s 3-0 Community Shield defeat by Arsenal when they travel to St James’ Park this weekend.
The Premier League Season Review 2013/14 helps you to get in the mood for the new season by reliving the previous campaign with videos showing how one of the most exciting title races in the competition's history unfolded, as well as the top 10 goals and saves. It also shows how the money generated by all this excitement is invested by the League and clubs in Youth Development and to help communities in the UK and overseas. Go to review.premierleague.com.