Manuel Pellegrini found it ‘difficult to understand’ Manchester City’s disastrous display in their 4-1 defeat to Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
The stage was set for a mouth-watering clash after Jurgen Klopp’s Reds ended October with a fine 3-1 win at Chelsea, with City having beaten Crystal Palace and Norwich in their previous two home encounters.
Pellegrini rested Nicolas Otamendi to the bench, meaning Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demechelis formed City’s central defensive partnership in Saturday’s late kick-off.
And Klopp’s Reds flew out of traps, with their famous ‘gegenpressing’ leading to an own goal by Mangala, who struggled to live with Liverpool’s relentless closing down.
The powerful defender’s mistake for the opening goal caused panic in the City ranks and the visitors took full advantage, with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino combining clinically to send the men in red into a 3-0 lead after just 33 minutes.
A stunned home crowd had something to cheer about after Sergio Aguero scored a superb solo goal just before the break.
But the hosts huffed and puffed to no great effect after the interval, with Joe Hart pulling off several fine saves to keep the scoreline respectable before Martin Skrtel powered home a late fourth goal to move Liverpool within six points of fourth-placed Arsenal in style.
Pellegrini was at a loss to explain his team’s dismal display, in which former Anfield favourite Raheem Sterling was a passenger for much of the game.
“Today we did it all wrong – the performance, the way we defended, the way we went forward,” the Manchester City boss was quoted as saying on BBC Sport.
“It was a fake night, a fake game. It is difficult to understand.
“If we meant to do it on purpose we couldn’t have done it that badly. It is impossible to understand.
“We tried to make changes and have some options to score. We tried to fight but continued making so many mistakes with the ball.”