Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City can wrestle the title back next season, but walked out of an interview when asked if he was the right man to oversee that campaign.
City’s tame defence of the Premier League crown ended on Sunday afternoon as Chelsea wrapped up top spot with three games to spare.
Few would have predicted that outcome when the teams were joint top in January, but Pellegrini’s men have tailed off dramatically since then and even faced the prospect of missing out on Champions League football.
Sunday’s 1-0 win at Tottenham means City have avoided such embarrassment but that has done little to alleviate the pressure on Pellegrini, with Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and Pep Guardiola amongst those linked to the manager’s job.
The current incumbent was asked after the win at White Hart Lane whether he was the right man for City, but walked out of the interview with Sky Sports while saying: “I do not want to answer that question.”
The Chilean had calmed by the time he attended the post-match press conference, when he spoke positively about the future.
“I am not thinking about the gap,” Pellegrini said. “I think Chelsea did this year exactly what we did last year – they won the Premier League and they won the Capital One Cup. We did exactly the same last year, scoring more goals in another style.
“I think every year in the Premier League you have five important teams and all of them can win the title.
“I hope we will continue at this club as we did the last four years, but you must remember we have not yet finished this season.
“We won two titles last season and I think it is important for this club to try and improve, but you must understand you can’t always beat all the other important teams, like United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool.
“When we finish the season, we need to analyse what happened and what we can improve. We see last year and we hope we will again be involved in the fight for the title.”
Pellegrini, noticeably, did not congratulate this season’s winners in the press conference, instead choosing to have a dig at the way Jose Mourinho’s side won the title.
“I think it is important for the Premier League and it is important for the fans to play attractive football,” the City boss said. “That’s why I just said that we won playing another style.
“We did exactly the same that Chelsea did this year, but we scored last year 158 goals and in this whole season 101 in the Premier League, 27 in the Capital One Cup.
“This team continues as the most scoring team. That side is important, to continue winning in that sense.”
City would not have been celebrating an eighth win in nine Premier League matches against Tottenham were it not for some poor finishing and a man-of-the-match display from Joe Hart.
The defeat almost certainly extinguishes Spurs’ hopes of Champions League qualification and left head coach Mauricio Pochettino frustrated.
“I’m feeling very disappointed with the result but at the same time I was happy with the performance because it was very good,” he said.
“We deserved more this afternoon. I think that we managed the game, the tempo and we created more chances than Manchester City but we didn’t score. In football, if we don’t score, it is difficult to win the game.”