MANCHESTER, May 23- Manuel Pellegrini claims Manchester City’s second place finish in the Premier League does not represent a failure for the deposed champions.
City are guaranteed to end as runners-up behind champions Chelsea whatever their result in their last game of the season at home to Southampton on Sunday.
While City’s lofty position would be gratefully accepted by many of their top-flight competitors, Pellegrini’s expensively-assembled side have won few plaudits this season after tamely surrendering the title and crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16.
Yet City manager Pellegrini struck a defiant note when asked to assess his team’s campaign.
And with UEFA president Michel Platini reportedly on the brink of relaxing Financial Fair Play regulations, the Chilean believes the new developments will help ensure City challenge at the top of the English game for years to come.
“I think all the rules about FFP must be clear and Platini saying he will make changes is because they have got some things wrong in the past,” Pellegrini said.
“I think a club like ours, when you don’t have any debt, I don’t see why you have restrictions.
“But it is a thing I am glad they are reviewing because I said before I never understood what are the rules of FFP.
“Of course, with restrictions, you are giving an advantage to other teams. It is not the most important reason we failed this season because, as I said before, we lost a lot of points to teams not as strong as our squad.
“But against Chelsea or Man United or Arsenal or Tottenham or Liverpool, if you have restrictions the other group doesn’t have, then of course it’s an advantage.
“This year we will all be in the same condition and we will see which is the team that works more to have a strong squad.”
– Job security –
Despite rumours about his job security, Pellegrini is still talking like a manager who fully expects to be in the job when the next season kicks off and, as he has done repeatedly in recent weeks, the City chief says the season has not been the disaster some critics claim.
“If we cannot win the title, it is better to finish second to finish than third or fourth,” he said.
“It was not our target at the beginning of the season. We tried to keep the title but it was not possible. Chelsea was better team than our team this year so I think to be second is not bad.
“It is difficult to review the whole season in one moment. I think it was a special season. It was not a good season because we did not win any titles but it was not a disaster.”
Southampton, who will kick off in seventh spot, are hoping to clinch a place in next season’s Europa League, which they will do if they win and one of Liverpool or Tottenham does not.
But remaining in seventh will also be enough, provided Arsenal, who have already qualified for the Champions League, beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final.
Whatever happens, Saints boss Ronald Koeman is assured of having overseen the joint fourth-highest finish in the club’s history.
Captain Jose Fonte admitted he was actually disappointed Saints will finish outside the top four however.
“I know this is the Premier League and it’s the hardest league in the world and anything can happen,” he said.
“But I really believe that at least four wins we could have got instead of four defeats that we had, and that would have put us you know where – in the Champions League.”