Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has hit back at Jose Mourinho by accusing the Chelsea boss of trying to dodge responsibility in claiming his big-spending side are the underdogs in the battle to win the Premier League.
Pellegrini prefers to avoid discussing his counterparts at other clubs but broke his vow of silence after Mourinho, whose Chelsea won 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, described his team as “a little horse” competing against “two big horses” -- in City and Arsenal -- in the title race.
But Pellegrini said Chelsea’s level of expenditure -- whether in the last six weeks, 12 months or 10 years -- makes them the favourites and means Mourinho should not try and present his side as outsiders.
And he pointed out that Chelsea, who recruited Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Kurt Zouma in January, spent the most money in the winter transfer window, although Mourinho also sold Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne.
Pellegrini said: “Maybe it is a small horse if the manager thinks like that. It can be a little horse but very rich. This is the team that spends most money in the last 10 years, it is the team that spends most money this year and the team that spends the most money in the transfer window so [it is] little but rich.”
City outspent Chelsea in the summer window of 2013 but Pellegrini argued that the Londoners paid more in transfer fees over the 12-month period, as well as in a decade of Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
Pellegrini accused Mourinho of trying to take the credit if Chelsea do win the title but attempting to escape the blame if they do not.
He added: “I think he is favourite but he thinks if he wins he will have the merits but if he loses he does not have responsibility. It is the way he acts. Everyone acts the way he thinks is better for his team.”
Pellegrini also insisted that, while Mourinho has claimed it is a transitional year for Chelsea, he could also argue City should not be expected to win trophies this season but opted not to take that approach.
He said: “It is very easy for me to say: ‘It is my first year in the Premier League -- I am just getting to know the players so we don’t have to expect anything in this year,’ but I don’t think it is the way. I think we are working every day to try and do our best. We will see what we can do in all the competitions.”