Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has denied his future at the Etihad Stadium could hinge on his side’s crunch Champions League clash against Roma.
City’s latest troubled bid to qualify from the group stage will reach a potentially dramatic conclusion at the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital on Wednesday evening.
City are not only vying with Roma for the runners-up spot in Group E behind Bayern Munich, but also with CSKA Moscow as all three sides go into the final round of fixtures level on five points.
The permutations are complicated but basically City need to win and hope CSKA do not beat Bayern, or claim a score draw and hope CSKA lose.
That City even have such a chance after a dreadful start in the competition owes much to the brilliance of Sergio Aguero in almost single-handedly beating Bayern a fortnight ago.
After reaching the last 16 for the first time last season, City were quietly confident of making a much bigger impression this time around and a failure to qualify could spark speculation over Pellegrini’s position.
But asked if that might happen, the Chilean – whose appointment was influenced by his past record in the competition – said: “I don’t think so. It is a very important game and all of us want to qualify but I don’t think that what happens will have some link about my future in the club.
“I have never received any kind of pressure from the club. I hope we are going to qualify but I have nothing to be (concerned) about my future here.”
City are buoyed by their recent form – five successive wins – but hampered by the absence of the man chiefly responsible for their current good run, Aguero.
The prolific Argentinian is facing up to six weeks out after injuring knee ligaments in the early stages of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League win over Everton.
Pellegrini tried to deflect attention from Aguero at his pre-match press conference, acknowledging that City need to find a way to perform without the 19-goal forward.
“Well, Sergio – we know he is injured,” said Pellegrini. “He cannot play. We will see how long he will be out but I think it is more important for us to think about the players we have available for an important game against Roma.”
Midfielder Yaya Toure is also out through suspension but captain Vincent Kompany, playmaker David Silva and striker Stevan Jovetic are all back in contention.
Pellegrini said: “All of them could be ready. There is some doubt about one of them but we will see.”