LONDON, May 6 – Manuel Pellegrini insists it is important for him to leave Manchester City with the parting gift of a place in next season’s Champions League.
Pellegrini was accused in some quarters of risking City’s top-four place in the Premier League by resting players as he prioritised their bid to win this season’s Champions League.
That challenge ended on Wednesday when Real Madrid secured a 1-0 semi-final success against City and, as Pellegrini is being replaced by Pep Guardiola in the close-season, whether they compete in Europe’s top competition next season is of no personal consequence to the Chilean.
But as fourth placed City prepare to face third placed Arsenal on Sunday, Pellegrini, whose team have a four-point lead over fifth placed Manchester United, said it was wrong to suggest he lacks motivation for Premier League fixtures.
“I think it is very, very important to arrive to the Champions League next year. I finish my contract here but that is not a thing I am worried about,” Pellegrini told reporters on Friday.
“I am worried because I want to finish in the best way in this season. I think we deserve to be in the Champions League next year, as in the whole year we have been in a Champions League spot from the beginning to the end.
“With continuing in the Champions League to the semi-finals, it is not easy to have your mind on both competitions but I think we did it, except in the game against Southampton. All the other games we won.
“If I was just worried about the Champions League I would change for all the games every important player.
“Except for the last game, because it was so important to arrive to the final and I made some changes, we put out a strong team.
“It is very important for me also, so I don’t understand those kind of speculations about that.”