Norwich - Manuel Pellegrini faces an FA Cup
selection dilemma at Norwich on Saturday as he attempts to keep Manchester City
on track in four competitions.
Pellegrini has indicated the FA Cup is
bottom of his priority list in the midst of a testing January schedule that
consists of a minimum of seven matches, and potentially as many as nine.
City's manager has even gone as far as to
suggest that his side will struggle to find time to play all of their fixtures
if they reach the finals of all three cup competitions.
A run in the Champions League is a genuine
prospect thanks to a kind draw, while Pellegrini's team can reach Wembley in
the League Cup by overturning a 2-1 semi-final first-leg deficit against
Everton at the end of this month.
With the focus on those two competitions in
addition to a Premier League challenge, Pellegrini will give some consideration
to squad rotation as his team travel to Norwich for Saturday's FA Cup
In the Chilean's mind, winning a quadruple
of the Champions League, the Premier League and England's two major cup
competitions is impossible.
"It's a lot of games. If you ask me, I
always prefer to play in all the competitions," Pellegrini said.
"But I am worried about the FA Cup,
because after the early rounds, you start having to postpone your Premier
League games to continue in the tournament.
"I am not sure if you can continue in
all the competitions. I think if you play in the semi-final of the FA Cup and
you are in the semi-final of the Champions League, then you don't have time to
play all of your Premier League games."
While the fixture schedulers would surely
find time to squeeze in all of City's games somewhere, Pellegrini's point is
that pushing for success on four fronts is bound to result in a failure
somewhere along the line.
Their recent form suggests the strain may
be showing; just two wins from their last five fixtures in all competitions,
culminating in Wednesday's League Cup defeat at Goodison Park.
City's defence continues to look vulnerable
in the absence of their captain Vincent Kompany with a calf injury, with Martin
Demichelis at fault for allowing Romelu Lukaku the space to head Everton's
Pellegrini, though, feels he has the
attacking talent to hurt Norwich, even if he decides to rest Argentina forward
Sergio Aguero, who is still regaining full fitness after a heel injury.
"We've got good players in the squad.
But the way we play, our mentality, we give chances but we also create a lot of
chances. If our players get chances, normally they will score," he said.
A run of three wins from their last four
games means Norwich go into the tie with renewed belief after easing their
Premier League relegation concerns.
A successful holiday period means they sit
six points clear of the bottom three, easing the pressure that was beginning to
build at Carrow Road and allowing them to view the meeting with Pellegrini's
side as a more welcome distraction.
The game also marks the first anniversary
of Alex Neil taking charge of the club after moving south from Scottish club
May's Championship final win was a high
point and the manager believes the club is moving in the right direction.
"To get back-to-back wins is very
important. It takes pressure off the games coming up and we need to approach
them in the same manner," he said.
"Belief comes with wins, that is the
bottom line. People might watch you, you don't play well and lose and everybody
will write you off but if you can get a bit of momentum it is massive.
"We have found a nice balance at the
moment, we are looking threatening going forward and that is now two clean