Manuel Pellegrini issues UCL warning
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has warned his players that they need to be humble and show more respect to their opponents if they are to banish their Champions League demons.
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City have been knocked out in the group stages of their last two Champions League campaigns and their new manager has suggested they may have taken their opponents too lightly as they have come up short against Europe’s top sides.
"I think that the team has to approach it in a very humble way first of all, with the knowledge that the differences between the different teams are very small," stated Pellegrini.
"You don’t get there with the quality of a team to speak for you, but you need spirit, you need commitment, you need conviction and a winning mentality. I think this is fundamental if you want to reach the next round.
"I think that the most important aspect is to make the players feel that they feel the confidence to compete against teams at the same level."
Pellegrini has enjoyed more success in the Champions League with his last two clubs Villarreal and Malaga and he hopes those experiences will help his latest employers.
"It is my fifth year in the Champions League and I am very happy about my last campaigns," he said. "It is not easy to make it with a team like Villarreal and reach the semi-finals. The same happened with Malaga when we managed to make it into the quarter-finals.
"The most important aspect is to make the players feel that they have the capacity, and feel the confidence to compete against teams at the same level, considering all the tactical aspects.
"But I have always repeated the same sentence to my players: ‘If we are eliminated in the Champions League, then it needs to be because we faced a team that was superior to us and who played better than us.’ Not because they faced a bad-playing team and got eliminated without any efforts from our side.
"I think that this helped the players a bit, to let them feel that they have their qualities as well. Take some pressure away."
Meanwhile, Pellegrini confirmed his captain Vincent Kompany is in contention to make a first team return against Plzen, though he has yet to make a final decision on the centre-back’s fitness as he battles back from a groin injury he picked up in the first game of the season.
"We will see if he is 100 per-cent and if he is, of course he will play," added Pellegrini. "We will talk with the doctor and decide. We have a very important match but we have other players if any are not 100 per cent.
"Vincent is a very important player for us. He has been injured for about one month, but without Vincent, except for the game against Cardiff, the defence played very well. We have had three clean sheets."