Manuel Pellegrini may be staring at exit door

Burnley 1, Manchester City 0:

Manuel Pellegrini may be staring at exit door

City endured a torrid tea time at Turf Moor, and if that’s followed by a nightmare at the Camp Nou, Pellegrini’s fate looks sealed.

The City manager’s services will most likely be dispensed with at the end of the campaign if they fail to overturn a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of their last 16 Champions League tie in Catalonia.

Although it’s hard to imagine Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and company quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing City at the moment. Certainly not if this display was anything to go by.

Against a Burnley side assembled at a fraction of the cost, City delivered a lifeless performance. It was the polar opposite to the character and endeavour of those wearing Claret shirts.

And it was a defeat, given Chelsea’s advantage at the top of the table, which has left City with only the slimmest chance of retaining the Premier League title.

Pellegrini spoke at the beginning of the campaign about not making the mistakes of the 2012-13 campaign when City provided a meek defence of the title.

Unfortunately, it has been a case of history repeating. And it’s difficult to envisage a scenario other than Pellegrini being given the sack in the same manner as his predecessor Roberto Mancini.

Unless, of course, they are able to shake of their dreadful domestic form and shock Barca – something Pellegrini believes they are capable of.

“Anything that happens on Wednesday will have no relation to the Premier League,” he said. “We must try to put on a good performance and the only way to do that is to think tomorrow that football changes.

“Always when you don’t have the points or the victories that you should have, of course you have problems. But these are experienced players.

“We are playing exactly the same way as we were two months ago when we were winning all the games. But there are moments in football when you must know how to get results.”

Pellegrini also acknowledged that perhaps his City players had already started thinking about the game against Barca which affected their performance level.

He added: “It’s always the case before a big game that maybe the minds are not completely on the game. But we tried to think just about this game.

George Boyd was the hero for Burnley just after the hour when he latched on to Vincent Kompany’s headed clearance from a Ben Mee’s free-kick and arrowed a crisp half-volley home.

City felt they should have been awarded a late penalty when Pablo Zabaleta went down when he was caught by Ben Mee.

“I think it was a penalty,” Zabaleta said. “It could have been a big chance for us to take at least one point.

“When everything is really tight, at the end of the season any point can make a difference.”

For Burnley, the victory enhanced the belief engendered by manager Sean Dyche that top-flight survival is a possibility.

Of those teams involved in the scrap at the bottom of the table the Clarets are fitter, more organised and bolder in their ambition on the pitch.

Burnley forward Boyd doesn’t think he has bagged a more significant winning goal to date and urged his team-mates to reproduce the same level of performance in their remaining nine games.

“I think it’s the most important goal of my career because it gives us a great chance of staying up,” Boyd added.

“We seem to raise our game against the big teams. If we can do that against the teams in and amongst us then we’ll have a great chance of staying up.

“It’s important for us to stay in touch with this run of tough fixtures. We know we can beat anyone on our day and the result today proved that.

“We just have to stay in touch. It’s a massive result. It keeps us right up amongst it.”

BURNLEY (4-4-2): Heaton 7; Trippier 8, Duff 7, Shackell 7, Mee 7; Boyd 8, Arfield 6, Jones 7, Barnes 6; Vokes 6 (Ward 87; 6), Ings 7 (Reid 90; 6). Subs not used: Gilks, Keane, Jutkiewicz, Wallace, Kightly.

MAN CITY (4-4-2): Hart 6; Zabaleta 6, Kompany 6, Demichelis 5, Clichy 5; Jesus Navas 4, Toure 7 (Lampard 81; 6), Fernandinho 7, Silva 5 (Jovetic 74; 6); Dzeko 5 (Bony 63; 6), Aguero 6

Subs not used: Sagna, Nasri, Caballero, Mangala

Referee: Andre Marriner 6 (W Midlands)

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