Manuel Pellegrini insists Manchester City deserve to qualify for the Champions League ahead of Manchester United as they have been more consistent over the course of this season.
City’s chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four are now out of their hands after they twice surrendered a lead in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.
With rivals Manchester United now being able to overtake fourth-placed City by winning their game in hand on Tuesday, it was not the home farewell the outgoing Pellegrini wanted in his penultimate game in charge.
But the Chilean said: “We are not finished for the season. Of course if you don’t depend just on what you can do it is more difficult, but we will see after Tuesday what will happen between Manchester United and West Ham.
“I think we deserve to be in the Champions League next year because we have had 37 games in a spot of Champions League, so I hope we are not going to lose that spot in the last game.
“Also we have made improvements in the Champions League, but playing so many games with midweeks is difficult.
“I trust we are going to have our achievement on Sunday.”
At times City looked superb in attack but they were unable to build on goals early in each half from Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne. Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez cancelled out both.
Pellegrini claimed it was not a case of his side wilting under pressure in a display that was much improved from the disappointing midweek showing at Real Madrid.
He said: “No, I don’t think so. If you talk about about pressure, maybe on Wednesday we failed under pressure but I cannot regret or complain about anything from the team today, especially in the first 45 minutes.
“We conceded a very easy goal for Arsenal but we played at high pace and had a lot of attempts. We didn’t win this game because we conceded two goals, not because we felt pressure.”
The crowd were deflated by the result and the majority had left before City’s players returned to the field for their traditional end-of-season parade, prior to which Pellegrini also addressed fans.
Pellegrini, who is making way for Pep Guardiola in the summer, would not comment on his feelings about the supporters’ exodus.
But he said: “I was disappointed not to win the game. I have had unforgettable years here but I don’t want to analyse in this moment. We can do next Sunday.
“The best way to finish with our fans was winning this game and we couldn’t do it.”
Former Arsenal playmaker Samir Nasri was not included in the City squad.
Pellegrini said: “For different reasons, Samir Nasri didn’t work the complete week so he was not able to play this game.”
Asked to elaborate, Pellegrini said: “There is nothing the matter in this moment. I try to choose the players I thought were in the best moment for this game and for different reasons it was not the case for Samir.”
Pressed further, Pellegrini said: “He is not injured, it is not attitude, it is not tactical reasons. He was sick during the week so was not able to play.”
While City are now sweating on their top-four position, third-placed Arsenal, who play relegated Aston Villa in their final game, are now almost there.