Pellegrini sets ton-up City quadruple target
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his team’s free-scoring form can sweep them to an unprecedented haul of all four major trophies this season.
A 4-2 home victory over Cardiff City in the Premier League on Saturday means that City have now scored 103 goals in all competitions and 42 in their 11 home league games to date, all of which they have won.
As well as trailing league leaders Arsenal by only a point, they lead West Ham United 6-0 ahead of their League Cup semi-final second leg next week and remain in contention in both the Champions League and FA Cup.
“I think we’re in a very good moment, in terms of the confidence of the whole team; not just the 11 players,” Pellegrini said. “The confidence is very high at this moment.
“Of course, our season continues and the last month the pressure will be higher, for all the teams. I hope we continue in this way.
“It will be a very close Premier League, and not just the Premier League — other competitions as well. We are not the only team, but we are in a strong position and we hope we can continue in this way.
“This team is getting better. We must be candidates for all the titles. We are playing better than at the beginning of the season, but that is normal.
“It is not easy to change so many things, the way the team has played in other years. The players had to learn new things. Now we must continue.”
An early goal from Edin Dzeko, awarded via the use of goal-line technology, was followed by a Craig Noone equaliser, before a City deluge featuring goals from Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.
Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell completed the scoring with a late consolation.
Having scored twice this week since his recovery from a month-long lay-off with a calf injury, Aguero has made a stunning return to the first team, although not one that has surprised his manager.
“He has not surprised me because I see him work every day,” Pellegrini said.
“He is the kind of player, when he comes back it is easy for him. With players of a different physique, it may be more difficult.”
The 100-goal milestone received a rapturous response from City’s supporters, but it drew a predictably muted reaction from Pellegrini.
“It is very important for the team,” he said.
“It is not easy to score 100 goals after little more than the middle of the season. It reflects how we feel this team must play. Hopefully we can continue the way we’re doing.
“We are always a creative team. We have chances every match to score a lot of goals.
Today, the first 45 minutes was one of the best we have played so far in the season.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Cardiff manager, was part of the Manchester United side that famously won the treble in 1999 and he believes his own team of 15 years ago still compares favourably with Pellegrini’s.
“I would like to think so,” said Solskjaer. “They weren’t bad, the players I played with either!
“There is no doubt this is a terrific team, terrific players they have got. We got tested against some of the best players in Europe.”
Defeat left Cardiff at the foot of the Premier League table, but Solskjaer was bullish about their chances of avoiding the drop.
“We can stay up. No doubt about that,” he said.
“We will look to improve. Parts of all the performances have been very good. For half an hour we did very well today (Saturday), but for two or three minutes they blitzed us.
“You have to enjoy life. These kind of performances won’t make me look older because at times we looked like a proper team.”