Toure absence not cause of slump: Pellegrini

BOXED IN: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City being surrounded by Hull City defenders during their match at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Meyler gave Hull a first-half lead before Milner equalised with an injury-time free kick.


    Feb 09, 2015

    Toure absence not cause of slump: Pellegrini


    MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame the continued absence of Yaya Toure for his team's collapse this year, following their 1-1 home draw with relegation-threatened Hull City.

    The defending Premier League champions are now seven points behind leaders Chelsea, have exited the FA Cup at home to Championship side Middlesbrough, and have gone four games without a league win - their worst such run in over five years.

    All this has happened while the inspirational Toure has been at the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, who faced Ghana in yesterday's final.

    The hulking 31-year-old midfielder is not expected to be available for Wednesday's trip to Stoke City, but Pellegrini is adamant that City can prosper without him.

    "I always have the same answer: You can't have any doubt (on) how important Yaya Toure is for us," he said. "But we feel that every game without Yaya, we could win. It is not just about one player.

    "We must be a creative team and we must play faster in the last 25m against teams who defend with men behind the ball. I think there is more of a problem than one individual player."

    David Meyler gave Hull a deserved, if surprise, first-half lead on Saturday and the visitors, who defended stoutly, would have won had it not been for a fine injury-time free kick by James Milner.

    "Yes, of course, before the game, if you'd said we were going to draw against Hull, I wouldn't have liked it," admitted Pellegrini. "But the way we did it was not so bad with a goal in the last minute.

    "In the 90 minutes, we had all the possession and attacked and attacked. We created only one chance, so it's very clear - we must work and try to improve in that sense."

    On Chelsea's advantage, he added: "We're not thinking about it. We're not concerned about the gap.

    "We're thinking about how we can return to our normal performance. How we can score again; how we can resolve the problems other teams are presenting us. That's more important than the gap to other teams."

    Milner was the unlikely saviour for City after coming off the bench in the second half, raising questions as to why the England international had not been in the line-up from the start. "I think James Milner has played 24 or 25 games this season," said Pellegrini.

    "But for different reasons, I need to make changes because the last few games, we didn't score and the last two home games, we didn't score.

    "He scored a beautiful goal with the free kick, but it is not about one name. That is not the problem. It is not just about one individual player."