Manuel Pellegrini has hinted that Manchester City’s decision to announce Pep Guardiola as his successor in February could have impacted on the side’s performances.
City failed to mount a sustained Premier League title bid this season, though Pellegrini did take the club to the Champions League semi-final for the first time, only to lose out to Real Madrid.
But Guardiola’s arrival for the 2016-17 season has long been on the cards and the media coverage that followed the news may have hindered City.
“It is not the moment to talk about that. It is important for it not to affect the team. The media did say the season was finished and the next season was starting,” said Pellegrini, who will take charge for the final time against Swansea City on Sunday.
“But that was not the only reason. There were a lot of others.”
City realistically only need a draw this weekend to seal a top-four spot and Champions League football once more, with rivals United having run them close.
Pellegrini feels his players are deserving of a seat at Europe’s top table and spoke of his pride at his City achievements, having won the Premier League and two League Cups in his three years at the Etihad Stadium.
“I think we deserve to be in the Champions League,” he added. “We played well against Arsenal [a 2-2 draw] and we deserve to qualify, but the Premier League is not easy.
“I want to finish the way we did against Arsenal. I was disappointed with the Real Madrid [game] as that’s not our team.
“I am proud of winning the titles, also I am proud of our style of play. [We play] for the fans.
“The club has grown every year, not only results. We have a different style of play now. We take more risks and score a lot of goals. Very different.”
The 62-year-old confirmed that Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva and Vincent Kompany would miss the trip to the Liberty Stadium.