MANUEL PELLEGRINI, the Manchester City manager, did not believe he had a point to prove over Jose Mourinho despite knocking him and Chelsea out of the FA Cup in a 2-0 fifth-round victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
City’s Chilean manager had come under close scrutiny and had his tactical acumen questioned after losing to Chelsea at home in the league two weeks ago, the second time this season he had lost to Mourinho and the seventh defeat in nine career meetings between the pair.
With City facing Barcelona in the Champions League knock-out phase in Manchester on Tuesday, Pellegrini and City maintain an interest in all four competitions but the Chilean insisted progress in the FA Cup did not provide him with any sense of revenge over Mourinho.
“It’s easy for me to talk about tactics when you win,” said Pellegrini. “But it is not revenge. I really don’t think we had any tactical problems against Chelsea the other day.
“We knew exactly the way Chelsea play, they knew how we play, but players always make the difference during the match. Today was not a tactical masterclass.
“We have two important games, today and Tuesday, and so we mixed different players. Now we start thinking about Barcelona but today was very important to have the performance we did in all senses – defending, in possession, attacking – I don’t think Chelsea had a single chance to shoot at goal.”
City, FA Cup finalists in two of the last three seasons, are now in the last eight of the FA Cup with the Barcelona tie and a League Cup Final date with Sunderland pending.
Pellegrini, however, refused to assess his team’s chances of capturing an unprecedented quadruple.
“We never talk about that,” he said. “I always say we try to fight in all competitions as far as we can but it is one one step more in one competition.
“For me, the most important thing is we beat a great team but I also had a lot of questions the other day when we lost against Chelsea about are we going to change the way of playing because we lost 1-0?
“I repeat, this team will not change the way it plays and today was a very important test to keep our style of play, always.”
– Mourinho not pointing finger –
Opposite number Mourinho saw his team turn in a sub-par display and took off ineffective striker Samuel Eto’o at the interval although the Chelsea manager was in no mood to point blame at individuals.
“There are things I cannot say,” said Mourinho. “There are things I can think and keep to myself; it’s up to you.
“I don’t want to individualise, speak about my striker or my keeper or my left-back, whatever. We are a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team.”
Mourinho, whose own Champions League date with Galatasary is still over a week away, refuted the argument that exiting the FA Cup may help his side in that competition or in keeping their place at the top of the Premier League table.
“I keep saying the same; we go game by game, we are what we are. We try to win the next game, it doesn’t matter the competition and I don’t think one or two more games in the FA Cup would have changed anything for us or for them – especially with the powerful squad they have. I don’t think there is a problem.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho was in typically mischievous mood when asked about his reaction to the response to his public war of words with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger whom he labelled a “specialist in failure.”
“You mean my comments or the previous comments to my comments?” said Mourinho referring to Wenger’s own remarks about the Chelsea manager. “It’s your fault. It’s always the same guy who’s the bad guy. One is polite, the other is the bad guy; okay, okay. I’m not surprised because I know him.”