Sporting Alert – Manuel Pellegrini says his Manchester City players are still playing for him, others believe they are not.
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On Wednesday when Manchester City take on Dynamo Kiev in a Champions League first-round knockout clash, we will all get the chance to see who is right.
The Premier League title chasers have dropped three successive games, including a 5-1 hammering against Chelsea in the FA Cup recently, although City fielded a weak side for that matchup.
This result and buildup performances created an alarm over whether the current group of players are already looking towards working with Pep Guardiola next term after the Citizens lost three of four games since it was announced that Pellegrini would be replaced by the Bayern Munich boss at the end of the season.
However, Pellegrini has dismissed reports suggesting that his team has given up on playing for him — adding that the players are all motivated and ready for the battle at Dynamo Kiev.
“No, really that is not a problem. All the players from the start, they are just thinking in this season — that we have important challenges from now until the end of the year, and the best way is to be focused in every game,” he said at his press conference.
“Now it is the Champions League, after that we have the (Capital One Cup) final at Wembley on Sunday, and on Wednesday we will return to the Premier League.
“So it’s very easy because we are focused on having a season that works this year,” he added.
Despite their poor run of form, Manchester City will still start as the favourites, as they face a Dynamo Kiev squad that has not played a competitive game since December because of Ukraine’s winter break.
At the same time though, the Ukraine side is on a nine-match unbeaten home run in UEFA competition, which dates back to Feb 2014.
Man City enter this game with a number of injury worries with midfielders/wingers Kevin De Bruyne, Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph, and Jesus Navas and forward Wilfried Bony all still recovering from setbacks.
However, leading defender and captain Vicent Kompany returns, as does fellow centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, who is back after missing 10 games due to a hamstring problem.
Manchester City (squad): Hart, Caballero, Gunn, Wright, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov, Clichy, Toure, Fernando, Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling, M Garcia, Aguero, Iheanacho.