Manchester - Manuel Pellegrini claims Manchester City's second place finish
in the Premier League does not represent a failure for the deposed champions.
City are guaranteed to end as runners-up behind champions Chelsea whatever
their result in their last game of the season at home to Southampton on Sunday.
While City's lofty position would be gratefully accepted by many of their
top-flight competitors, Pellegrini's expensively-assembled side have won few plaudits
this season after tamely surrendering the title and crashing out of the
Champions League in the last 16.
Yet City manager Pellegrini struck a defiant note when asked to assess his
And with UEFA president Michel Platini reportedly on the brink of relaxing
Financial Fair Play regulations, the Chilean believes the new developments will
help ensure City challenge at the top of the English game for years to come.
"I think all the rules about FFP must be clear and Platini saying he
will make changes is because they have got some things wrong in the past,"
"I think a club like ours, when you don't have any debt, I don't see
why you have restrictions.
"But it is a thing I am glad they are reviewing because I said before I
never understood what the rules of FFP are.
"Of course, with restrictions, you are giving an advantage to other
teams. It is not the most important reason we failed this season because, as I
said before, we lost a lot of points to teams not as strong as our squad.
"But against Chelsea or Man United or Arsenal or Tottenham or
Liverpool, if you have restrictions the other group doesn't have, then of
course it's an advantage.
"This year we will all be in the same condition and we will see which
is the team that works more to have a strong squad."
Despite rumours about his job security, Pellegrini is still talking like a
manager who fully expects to be in the job when the next season kicks off and,
as he has done repeatedly in recent weeks, the City chief says the season has
not been the disaster some critics claim.
"If we cannot win the title, it is better to finish second to finish
than third or fourth," he said.
"It was not our target at the beginning of the season. We tried to keep
the title but it was not possible. Chelsea was better team than our team this
year so I think to be second is not bad.
"It is difficult to review the whole season in one moment. I think it
was a special season. It was not a good season because we did not win any
titles but it was not a disaster."
Southampton, who will kick off in seventh spot, are hoping to clinch a place
in next season's Europa League, which they will do if they win and one of
Liverpool or Tottenham does not.
But remaining in seventh will also be enough, provided Arsenal, who have
already qualified for the Champions League, beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup
Whatever happens, Saints boss Ronald Koeman is assured of having overseen
the joint fourth-highest finish in the club's history.
Captain Jose Fonte admitted he was actually disappointed Saints will finish
outside the top four however.
"I know this is the Premier League and it's the hardest league in the
world and anything can happen," he said.
"But I really believe that at least four wins we could have got instead
of four defeats that we had, and that would have put us you know where - in the