Manuel Pellegrini 'forced' to field weakened Man City side vs. Chelsea
Manuel Pellegrini has defended his decision to play a weakened team after Manchester City were thrashed 5-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round.
The City boss handed five youngsters their first ever starts for the club, while another two players made their debuts from the bench.
Pellegrini was unhappy that the match was switched to a Sunday for a television broadcast -- just 24 hours before his side fly to Ukraine ahead of their Champions League game with Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday.
And the Chilean added that he did not want to risk further injuries with six of his first team already unavailable. Senior players Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure did not travel to Stamford Bridge, while Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho were unused substitutes.
Pellegrini told a news conference: "We are forced to do it. Unfortunately we couldn't play another day. We couldn't have more players fit for this game so we knew before the game it was a very difficult chance to continue in the FA Cup.
"But if anyone didn't want to put the game in the current day we couldn't do anything about it. If we play on Saturday it's better for us and to play for England in the Champions League.
"The second thing is we have six players injured and we don't have more than 13 players so we cannot take the risk to have another injury in the players we have.
"And after that we play against a very good team with six young players -- that's why they won."
City started with six teenagers -- Kelechi Iheanacho, Manu Garcia, Aleix Garcia, David Faupala, Tosin Aderabaiyo and Bersant Celina -- and they held their own in the first half.
Faupala, who turned 19 earlier this month, scored his first goal for the club within two minutes of Diego Costa's opener for Chelsea as the first half finished 1-1.
But Pellegrini, who said ahead of the clash that he would not buy a ticket if he were a fan given City's weakened selection, felt the game changed shortly after half-time when Chelsea scored twice in five minutes before going on to win comfortably.
Pelegrini said: "I feel we made a very good 45 minutes and we equalised the game. After that, in five minutes we threw away the game because we conceded two goals too easily -- especially one on the counter-attack and one on a set-piece. Of course, after that they played well and scored more goals."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him @jonnysmiffy.