Manuel Pellegrini praised Manchester City’s defensive efforts after the derby against Manchester United at Old Trafford ended goalless but insisted “it’s not my way of playing”.
City went into the match having scored 11 times in their previous two Premier League games but the absence of influential attacking duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva through injury was keenly felt throughout a laboured 90 minutes.
Yaya Toure spurned the best two openings of the first half for the visitors but they were forced to defend after the break, with substitute Jesse Lingard striking the crossbar for United five minutes from time.
Pellegrini’s team are back on top of the Premier League on goal difference ahead of Arsenal – two points better off than United – and the manager claimed it was “easy” to defend with his team stationed increasingly close to their own penalty area.
“I’m not disappointed because we did okay in a difficult stadium,” Pellegrini told reporters.
“We played better in the first half, but as a team we need to defend as well, it’s a tactical game. It’s easy to defend with 10 players in your box, for me it’s not the way to do it but we did well.
“I don’t know if we have played our best. I always read how teams going away and playing tactical are doing well – it’s all mind games, and although it’s not my way of playing we did it this time.
“We have returned to the top, which is important.”
City had faded as an attacking force by the time Pellegrini made the uncharacteristically pragmatic move of replacing Toure with veteran defender Martin Demichelis in the 77th minute and the Chilean explained that his team’s carelessness in possession forced a change in approach.
“We lost too many balls in the second half,” he said. “We didn’t have clear chances but we had more attempts than United did.
“It wasn’t my intention to play that way second half but United had more of the ball.”