Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he is not feeling the heat at the Etihad Stadium.
Pressure is starting to increase on the Chilean after a less-than-convincing start to the season.
The champions have lost two of the opening nine matches of their Barclays Premier League title defence and have made another faltering start in the Champions League.
To compound matters they were dumped out of the Capital One Cup, which they also won last season, by an understrength Newcastle in midweek.
Without injured playmaker David Silva, they now face a critical few days with arch-rivals United visiting Eastlands tomorrow and a crucial Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.
More questions will be asked of Pellegrini and his methods if they suffer further damage in those two fixtures but the Chilean claims not to be aware of any pressure.
The 61-year-old said: “I don’t know what pressure (there is). I think it is very difficult to analyse the season when it is just in October, when you have just played nine Premier League games and you don’t know whether or not you are going to qualify in the Champions League.
“It is the reality that we are eliminated from the Capital One Cup — but last year we were the only (title-contending) team to continue in the Capital One, so maybe the other teams will have more difficulties this season when they have to play so many games.”
City have not won in their last three games, having surrendered a two-goal lead to draw at CSKA Moscow and then lost at West Ham prior to the Newcastle cup defeat.
The team are clearly not producing the performances that swept numerous opponents aside last season but Pellegrini is dismissive of suggestions rival managers have worked them out.
“I don’t agree they know how we play,” said Pellegrini. “I normally think the players’ performance in that (particular) game makes the difference.”
Because of that, Pellegrini has no intention of abandoning his attacking principles.
He points to the experience of last season when, like now, they trailed the Premier League leaders by six points and turned the situation around.
He said: “If I go (back) one year, it was exactly the same. Around the end of October, we had the same questions, and I answered the same way.
“It is the way we must play. We will continue doing the same way.”
But Pellegrini insists he can be flexible, and often does vary tactics within games, to find the right formula. He has no doubt his side’s class will eventually shine through.
He said: “We are always making different changes, not only in names but also in the way we play.
“If you review the last games, during the games, I always made some changes to try and improve the performance in defending and attacking.
“But I think that always you have better moments and bad moments. It’s normal. It’s not good to do it, but normally all the teams have a moment in the season when they are not at their best. It’s important (for it) to be at the beginning of the season, not at the end of the season.
“I am sure that our team will be again the strong team that we were in the second half of last year.
“We continue with our target to try to defend our title, to try to continue in the Champions League. Maybe last year we did better in the Capital One but maybe this year we can win the FA Cup.”
Pellegrini has challenged his team to step up and fill the void created by David Silva’s absence tomorrow.
Silva has been ruled out for around three weeks after limping out early on in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup loss to Newcastle.
“He is a very important player but I always say the same thing, we have a squad and we have to replace him with another player.
“I think we are a team, and in that team we need top players in top performance always, because that is the best way to play.”
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