Manuel Pellegrini was delighted with the performance of his much-changed Manchester City side in their 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Pellegrini made five changes to the side held by Everton in midweek, with Yaya Toure left on the bench and young striker Kelechi Iheanacho handed a start in a 4-4-2 formation.
Another player promoted to the starting XI, Fabian Delph, scored City’s opening goal, leaving Pellegrini delighted.
“It was very important to win, having made five changes,” he said. “We have to play so many games in January and it is very important to have the whole squad involved in what we are doing if we are to remain a competitive team in all of the competitions.
“I think it was important to score the first goal. When we are able to score the first goal, we know we are going to have more space.
“The two goals gave us more space as they had to go for the draw. That allowed us to use that space and score two more.
“To have made so many changes but win the way we did is very useful.”
Pellegrini on winning games without key players
City remain without Vincent Kompany and have also had to deal without David Silva and Sergio Aguero at various points this season, and Pellegrini believes learning to win more games without their star players will be key to City’s chances of success.
“One of the merits of the squad is to be involved in all competitions,” Pellegrini said.
“We were without important players in the first part of the season. With all of our players 100% fit, our squad will be stronger, but for different reasons, we couldn’t play with Silva, Aguero or Vincent Kompany.
“We must be able to win games regardless – that’s why I was so happy with the complete squad from the beginning.
“If from now to the end of the season, we have top players, our team will be stronger.
“If not, I absolutely trust the other players. Today and against Everton, we didn’t have any problem playing with Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi – both of them played very well.
“We need Kompany but we can play without him. Though of course, for our team, it is important to have our top players 100%.
“I am happy we didn’t concede and kept the clean sheet but also that we scored goals too. We have not changed our style – we are playing the same way.
“We are continuing with our mentality to try and score goals.”
Pellegrini on leaving out Toure
On starting with Toure on the bench, Pellegrini said: “He played a good game against Everton and he had less than 72 hours to recover.
“I didn’t think he could complete the full game with high pace.
“If we couldn’t score, it would be useful for him to be fresh for the last 30 minutes.
“He is a professional, he works very well and he understands what I think. He agreed with me.”