Manuel Pellegrini has suggested that Manchester United have not improved since last season but admitted his Manchester City team have not developed either.
The champions host United in Sunday’s 168th derby having failed to win in their last three matches, losing the last two. City are six points behind the leaders, Chelsea, and four clear of Louis van Gaal’s side.
Asked if United are stronger than last year, Pellegrini said: “Similar. I think that both teams are similar. We are not stronger. I think Manchester United bought very important players this year. I think also they are at the moment where you start with a new manager and new players which is not easy. Maybe the same thing happened with me last year so I think they are in similar moments.”
Despite City’s poor form that has seen them lose successive matches to West Ham and Newcastle, Pellegrini denied he is under any pressure. “I don’t know what pressure is,” he said. “I think it’s very difficult to analyse the season at this moment when you are only in October and you have only played nine games in the Premier League when you don’t know whether you are going to qualify or not qualify in the Champions League.
“If I go [back] one year, it was exactly the same. Around the end of October, we had the same questions, and I answered the same way. It is the way we must play. We will continue doing the same way.”
Pellegrini stated that though City had been offered Ángel di María, the £49m net transfer spend limit imposed by Uefa for failing adhere to financial fair play regulations meant the club could not consider buying him.
“I suppose you already know,” he said. “We have an important restriction about budget this year. We cannot spend the money that United paid for Di María. We have an important restriction on the amount of players we can have this year and also the amount the amount of money we can spend. Very easy question.”
When asked if City would have bought Di María without the FFP restriction, Pellegrini batted the question away, saying: “That’s supposition. I don’t think it is good today to answer those things. We had the restriction and we had to do it. Jamie Jackson