Manuel Pellegrini was clearly left with a selection headache after he suggested Manchester City’s packed schedule was to blame for the Southampton defeat.
The 4-2 loss at St Mary’s Stadium has left Manchester City with work to do if they want to secure Champions League football for the arrival of Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Pellegrini’s men are four points clear of arch-rivals Manchester United in fifth place, but the gap could be just down to one point by the time Manchester City take on third-place Arsenal on Sunday afternoon as the Red Devils face Norwich in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
The Chilean had Real Madrid on his mind after making a whopping eight changes from their Champions League final first-leg on Tuesday, and suggested he would have selected a stronger team had they played on Saturday instead.
“I tried to select a team that would win the game. I also had to select a team based on who would play on Wednesday,” revealed Pellegrini.
“Maybe if we played on Saturday we could have another option for this game but playing with too many players that are not playing often is difficult.”
As for the game itself, Pellegrini thought Manchester City were eventually made to pay for their wastefulness in the opening stages.
“In the first half we had clear options to score so they scored the two goals but we got back in it with Kelechi,” Pellegrini added.
“We started well in the second half before the decisive goal from the corner. After that it was very difficult to turn it around.”
Pellegrini seemed to be unconcerned about Manchester City’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season and insisted that nothing has changed regarding their scenario with two Premier League matches remaining.
“It’s exactly the same,” Pellegrini said. “It all depends on what we can do in these last two games. We are three points behind Arsenal and if we beat Arsenal we’ll be in third position before the last game.”