Pellegrini not giving up on title

Hampshire Chronicle: Manuel Pellegrini refuses to be downcast following Sunday's defeat to Liverpool Manuel Pellegrini refuses to be downcast following Sunday's defeat to Liverpool

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is convinced his side are still firmly in the Barclays Premier League title race.

Pellegrini insists little has changed as a result of Sunday's defeat to leaders Liverpool.

The loss left third-placed City trailing the Reds by seven points and Chelsea by five but, with two games in hand, Pellegrini claims the battle could still be too close to call.

The Chilean said: "I think the team knows perfectly what they have to do.

"We lost that game but we have still to play six games more and we will fight to the end to win the title.

"If we don't do it, it is because Liverpool will win their four games, but I don't think some things change after the game on Sunday.

"Of course, the fans believe that we can do it.

"The two games postponed - if we win both we are just one point behind Liverpool.

"If you don't believe (when you are) just one point behind the leader, nobody can believe anything.

"We have had a very good season so far and we hope we finish in the last six games in the same way."

City's title destiny may be out of their hands but they will look to apply pressure as they play the first of their games in hand at home to bottom side Sunderland on Wednesday.

"The important thing is that we win our games," Pellegrini said.

"We can do nothing about the other teams but we can do a lot of things here.

"That is why I am sure the players know exactly what they have to do and we will try to start winning one of the two games postponed so both teams, Chelsea and Liverpool, must feel we are only three or four points behind them with one game also to play at the end of the season."

City will be without key midfielder Yaya Toure, who limped off just 19 minutes into Sunday's game with a leg injury and will be out for 10 days to a fortnight.

That means he could also miss matches against West Brom and Crystal Palace but the problem does not appear as bad as first feared.

Vincent Kompany and top scorer Sergio Aguero, who made his comeback at the weekend after five games out with a hamstring injury, are both fit.

Meanwhile, Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet has admitted he would willingly swap places with arch-rivals Newcastle as he attempts to drag the club back from the brink of relegation.

The Black Cats head into a daunting visit to the Etihad Stadium knowing their Barclays Premier League destiny could be all but decided if they emerge with a sixth successive defeat with seven points currently separating them from safety.

Poyet admitted after Saturday's 1-0 home reverse at the hands of high-flying Everton that a root and branch review of the club is required if it is to ever release itself from a seemingly perennial tailspin which is sucking it back towards the Football League.

And he has cast an envious eye along the road to Newcastle, where counterpart Alan Pardew finds himself entrenched in a battle to win over his club's fans despite the Magpies sitting ninth in the table.

Asked to characterise the challenge of managing in the north-east, Poyet said: "The most important part, which is the fans, they love it, they love football and they are desperate to do well.

"Go across the river and go to Newcastle - they are in an unbelievable situation in the table and there is a nightmare.

"Can we change over? Because that is a great problem to have, to be ninth?

"Why? Because it's that drive to get better all the time and to be always on top and it doesn't matter how many games you have won in the past because you need to win the next.

"That part of football, I love it because it's the best way to do it, to try to get better all the time.

"In terms of mentality for me, it's perfect, the north-east. It's always better if you finish ninth instead of 10th, and I am like that.

"The problem is at the moment it is so bad that it's not enjoyable, so the idea is to make sure that we don't put ourselves in this situation anymore.

"It doesn't matter who is the manager, I am talking about the club now, the club itself."

Full-back Phil Bardsley will miss the trip through suspension after collecting his 10th booking of the season against Everton.

Midfielder Liam Bridcutt will also be absent because of a personal issue, while striker Steve Fletcher (ankle) is unlikely to play again this season and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood continues his recovery from a shoulder injury.

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