x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Pellegrini refuses to take eyes off Premier League while targeting European glory

Chilean expresses no disappointment at missing out on Manager of the Year plaudits in England

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, in blue, leads an open training session for fans at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on May 14, 2014. Satish Kumar / The National
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, in blue, leads an open training session for fans at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on May 14, 2014. Satish Kumar / The National

ABU DHABI // Having established a dominance of sorts within England, Manchester City are broadening their horizons to the continent in the hope of establishing a similar impact.

On Sunday, Manuel Pellegrini’s men secured a second Premier League championship in three seasons. Along with the League Cup, secured in March, it was their second trophy of the season and fifth in England since the drought-breaking 2011 FA Cup triumph.

But Pellegrini knows that Europe will take longer to conquer. City were knocked out by Barcelona in the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League, beaten 4-1 on aggregate.

Speaking ahead of City’s game with Al Ain on Thursday, Pellegrini acknowledged his side had improved this season but still had some way to go.

“To win the Champions League, you must fight with a very important team also,” Pellegrini said. “This is improving every year. I don’t know if we are ready to win the Champions League next year, but I think we have a very good squad. We’ll see where we can improve the squad.

“This year we were also very unlucky because we played one player less against Barca. I don’t know if we can win it, but I’m sure we are going to continue to another stage. We’ll see every year what we need to win it.”

That, Pellegrini was keen to remind everyone, would not mean taking their eyes off the ball domestically. City do not have to look very far, of course, to see what benefits establishing a dynasty at home can lead to in Europe. Manchester United’s successes on the continent came only once they had established their dominance within the Premier League.

“We are not only thinking of winning the Champions League,” Pellegrini said.

“We must improve in all senses every year. It doesn’t matter how many titles we win. During the next week, we are celebrating here in Abu Dhabi what we did last season.

“It was very important to win the league. Next week we start working again to see in which way we can improve. That is very important for this team to try and improve every year on what we did last season. So we will see which is the best way to improve and try to continue winning the Premier League in England and cups in England.”

About the only disappointment – if it can be classed as such – was Pellegrini missing out on being Manager of the Year.

Tony Pulis’s heroics at Crystal Palace won the official league honour, while Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers took the League Managers’ Association (LMA) award. Pellegrini, though, is not a man easily disappointed.

“I’m not surprised at missing out,” he said. “Brendan is a very good manager and he had a great season with Liverpool. He won the award; he deserves it.”

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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