Manuel Pellegrini does not believe Manchester City’s defeat to Manchester United was a sign he has “lost control” of the dressing room.
Pellegrini, who walked out of his TV interview, struck an understandably frustrated figure in the post-match press conference, having seen City’s title hopes extinguished as United moved to within a point of them in fourth.
The Champions League quarter-finals may await the Capital One Cup winners, but they have now only won one of six Premier League matches, raising questions of whether Pep Guardiola’s impending arrival has negatively impacted the squad.
“I don’t think that I lose any control,” Pellegrini said. “If you see the attitude of the team today, it reflects that we are involved in what we want to do.
“Of course it is not the best way to finish the season and maybe one thing is linked with the other one, but I repeat I am happy with the attitude.
“The players are focused in this season and want to finish as near the top of the table as we can.”
Martin Demichelis had a torrid afternoon at the Etihad Stadium, not only being embarrassed by United match-winner Marcus Rashford but also providing the woeful backpass that led Joe Hart to sustain a calf injury.
Pellegrini rejected the suggestion that Rashford was too good for Demichelis but admitted his substitution early in the second half was a result of a bad day at the office.
“He was nervous,” Pellegrini said, having taken him off in the 53rd minute. “He was not having a good day.”