Football Football

Pellegrini throws down Kompany warning


MILNER-LEICESTERMANCHESTER, March 5- Manuel Pellegrini has warned his club captain Vincent Kompany that he is not assured of regaining his place in Manchester City’s starting line-up after he was left out of his side’s 2-0 victory over Leicester at the Etihad Stadium.

The Belgian World Cup central defender was the most high-profile victim of sweeping changes made by Pellegrini in the wake of successive and costly defeats to Barcelona and Liverpool.

Kompany’s poor form cost him his place for a victory that City laboured to record, through goals late in each half from David Silva and James Milner, and Pellegrini insisted that the defender is not assured of returning in City’s next game, at Burnley, in 10 days.

“It was the same reason with Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko – it was important today to refresh the team, mentally and physically, after two difficult games when we didn’t have the results we wanted,” said Pellegrini. “It was a good moment to do that.

“It was not a difficult decision because we needed to refresh the team and I decided, thinking about a lot of things. We will see what happens in the next game. We have the weekend free but on Monday we will start thinking about the next game.

“Always when you don’t have the result you need, the next game is very difficult and that is why today the most important thing was to win the three points. After that we played a normal game, we dominated, had good possession of the ball and it was important for the team to keep a clean sheet and try to dominate the game from the beginning.”

Pellegrini also backed new £25 million striker Wilfried Bony who marked his first start for the club by missing a number of gilt-edged chances to score his first goal for his new employers.

“It was important for him to start a game from the beginning,” said Pellegrini of the forward who spent the first part of the year on duty for the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations. “He was only having a few minutes in the last games.

“He just arrived here from the Africa Cup, where he played a lot of games and Yaya (Toure) felt the pace of the game also. It would have been better for him to score but it was important for him to start a game, important for him to have some chances and I think he worked the whole game very well.”

Victory kept City within five points of leaders Chelsea, although Jose Mourinho’s club have the luxury of a game in hand over the defending champions and Pellegrini insisted he is not relying on a slip from their rivals over the closing weeks of the campaign.

“I’m not thinking about Chelsea,” he said. “We must think about our team and try to win our games. We can’t do anything about what Chelsea do.

“It’s important to try to improve our performances, try to win our games and see at the end of the season whether Chelsea dropped the points or didn’t drop the points. But I’m not thinking about that.”

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson bemoaned what he felt were three clear penalty decisions that were denied his side. “The simple answer is yes, they were penalties,” he said. “We had three throughout the game. The second one you could say was marginal although there was contact but one in each half were clear.

“But I’m not talking about referees tonight. You can talk about them and ask the relevant authorities about them, there’s no point in me talking about the referee. It’s up to the authorities to get that right, not me. Our players go out there and give everything they’ve got and they did that again tonight.”