As Aguero puts Chelsea to the sword, Pellegrini bewildered he’s never won player of the year
Argentina star scores all the goals in 3-0 rout of Londoners
Manuel Pellegrini said it was “strange” Sergio Aguero has never been player of the year in England after the Manchester City star’s hat-trick secured a 3-0 win at Chelsea on Saturday.
Despite being one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalscorers in recent seasons, Aguero has yet to win either the Football Writers’ player of the year award or the equivalent honour from his peers in England’s Professional Footballers’ Association.
Aguero failed to make this week’s shortlist for the 2016 PFA award.
It didn’t seem to bother him as counter-attacking strikes either side of half-time, plus a penalty 10 minutes from the finish at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea goalkeeper Thibault Courtois was sent off for a foul on Fernandinho, took the Argentina striker’s tally to 21 league goals so far this season.
“It’s very strange that Sergio has played so many years here and has never been the best Premier League player here,” said Pellegrini after a win that saw City stay four points clear of local rivals Manchester United in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.
“I think here, in the Premier League, we have very good players but without doubt Sergio is one of the best and so important,” he added
Kevin de Bruyne was central to all of City’s best moves, setting up the first goal in what was his first league appearance at Stamford Bridge since Chelsea sold him to Wolfsburg in January 2014.
But rather than de Bruyne, who scored in the midweek Champions League quarter-final win over Paris St Germain wanting revenge, Pellegrini said City were keen to atone for their 5-1 FA Cup defeat by Chelsea in February when he effectively fielded a youth team.
“He [De Bruyne] played very well, but when you have all your best players playing together, the team’s performance is better... We wanted revenge for the FA Cup, losing 5-1 here.
“He left Chelsea because he wanted to play in Germany, but seeing him play like that shows why we got him here.”
Chelsea caretaker boss Guus Hiddink was equally impressed with de Bruyne, saying: “He’s a beautiful player to see. He’s very keen to play between the lines. All their [City’s] players are.”
The Blues’ hopes of mounting a successful defence of the Premier League title had evaporated when Hiddink was summoned for his second temporary spell in charge of the London club in December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea are 10th in the table and Hiddink said: “Yes, it’s a difficult defeat. But 0-3 seems and is high, but it’s not that we were outplayed. We were outplayed by smartness, on the three counters.
“The defeat was high, deserved, but not that negative to be desperate.”
The Dutchman rejected suggestions of a lack of fight in the Chelsea side, with many players notionally playing for their futures ahead of the arrival of incoming coach Antonio Conte.
“I don’t fully agree with that,” said Hiddink. It’s difficult if you’re up against a very intelligent team.
“We had some half-chances and there was no lack of fighting spirit, but it’s difficult when they play around you. They’re difficult to grab and get into duels. We did sometimes, but, once more, we have to respect the quality of the opponent.”
Pellegrini said that while he might make changes for Tuesday’s Premier League match against Newcastle, he planned to keep the bulk of the side together ahead of City’s Champions League semi-final first-leg at home to Real Madrid on April 26.
“I spoke with the players two weeks ago before we played PSG that the best way to arrive playing against a difficult team like Paris is to play well in the Premier League,” Pellegrini said.
“In this moment, I think the same ahead of Real Madrid. We need these points to reach the Champions League again,” he added.