Sep 01, 2014

    Miserable start for Manchester sides


    THE managers of both Manchester teams in the English Premier League have been left to rue their sides' faltering starts to the season.

    City boss Manuel Pellegrini lamented his team's lack of creativity in Saturday's 0-1 loss to Stoke City, saying: "As a team, they all could have done more.

    "We were very patient and tried to create space, but Stoke defended very well.

    "We couldn't create space and had a bad day in our creative play."

    City were well short of the form that delivered the Premier League title to the Etihad Stadium last season, falling to a fine second-half goal from Mame Biram Diouf.

    He struck just before the hour with an extraordinary solo goal that saw him sprint from deep within his own half into the City area, where he beat City goalkeeper Joe Hart. It was Stoke's first victory at City in 34 years, and only the second time in the last 71 home Premier League games that the defending champions had failed to score.

    "It is always serious to lose three points at home," added Pellegrini. "It was very important for our team to try and win nine points before the international break.

    "It is not good to start this break with a defeat, but these types of game happen once a year and it has happened to our team. We will continue playing and working the same way we are doing now."

    His counterpart at Manchester United, Louis van Gaal, is still winless after his team of millionaires were held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley, a side that cost just £5 million (S$10.4 million) to assemble.

    His United reign has seen two draws and a defeat in the Premier League, as well as a humiliating loss at third-tier Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup.

    Van Gaal, whose team will be stuck on two points - their worst start since 2007 - until they face promoted Queens Park Rangers on Sept 14, admitted: "We don't look world-class at the moment.

    "We shall have to wait and believe it will happen. We shall see where we are in a month or so."

    By then, he should have compatriot Daley Blind - the Ajax star who was a key part of van Gaal's Netherlands team at the World Cup and is expected to sign imminently for around £14 million - in his squad.

    Blind's arrival will continue van Gaal's £150 million overhaul of the United squad following the debut of Angel di Maria on Saturday.

    The Argentina midfielder, who cost a British record £59.7 million from Real Madrid, lasted 69 minutes before making way for Anderson after taking a kick to his calf.