Don’t even think about the quadruple, warns Manuel Pellegrini as Manchester City cruise on in FA Cup
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini urged his team to take their minds off a potential quadruple and back on the Premier League following a breezy victory in the FA Cup.
City finished off a good week in the knockout competitions by cruising past Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, just three days after making it to the League Cup final.
They are also into the knockout stages of the Champions League, but Pellegrini knows his side must be focused for Tuesday’s visit to Sunderland and cannot afford to slip up in the Premier League.
“We’ve had good results in both cups, but that is finished now and we must focus our minds on some very important games in the Premier League,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s a good way of thinking, to think about trying to win everything. We must try and demonstrate with our performance today that we are able to try and do well in all the competitions.
“In my first season here we won two titles, but were out of the FA Cup in the quarter-finals. This season we’re in the Champions League round of 16 so we must try and improve in that competition also.
“Our mind is not on what we can win, it is on the games we need to win. We have so many injured players that the FA Cup is more difficult because we have important games in the Premier League.”
One issue that Pellegrini will not be overly concerned by is goalscoring, after youngster Kelechi Iheanacho helped himself to a hat-trick in Sergio Aguero’s absence at Villa Park.
“I see him working every day, so I know what he can do in the game,” said the City manager, whose side are second in the league behind Leicester City.
“I received some criticism about not replacing Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko at the beginning of the season. My answer was that we have Kelechi.”
Pellegrini added: “It is very important for him to take his chance and demonstrate why he’s in the squad. To score a hat-trick is not easy, but I’m impressed because of the way I see him work and improve every day.
“He can play up there on his own because he scores, his movements are good. I wasn’t thinking about saving money, I was thinking we have a young player who is very important for our club.”
Iheanacho, 19, opened the scoring in the fourth minute, netted a 24th-minute penalty and then seized on a loose Idrissa Gueye back-pass to complete his hat-trick 16 minutes from time, before Raheem Sterling added a fourth.
Despite the result mirroring the ample margin of defeat in Villa’s 4-0 loss to Arsenal in last season’s final, beaten manager Remi Garde said it would not damage his side’s confidence.
A five-match unbeaten run had Villa showing signs of life in their relegation battle, but Garde paid the price for fielding a weakened side against City.
“I didn’t make change for change’s sake,” said the Frenchman, whose side are bottom of the league table.
“We have players that can’t cope with three games in quick succession. I know that this competition is very important for everyone in this country and for this club, because they got to the final last year.
“When you start the game so poorly, it is difficult. After the first two goals, they played quietly and we did not have much danger to cope with.
“The penalty was a bit harsh, but it is done. I don’t want to blame the team too much and we have important games coming up.
“The third goal we had possession of the ball and it was a bad pass. But I don’t want to blame anyone. We must stick together for the last 16 games of the season. These are very important games for this club.”