Manuel Pellegrini has warned Manchester City not to expect uncertainty over the future of Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal to play into their hands in this weekend’s derby match.
Fourth-placed City host United with a four-point advantage over their neighbours in six, with both clubs surprisingly distant from the Premier League title race.
Pellegrini has already announced he will make way for Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola at the end of this season and there is an increasing sense Van Gaal is also coming towards the end of a chapter in his own esteemed career.
United were knocked out of the Europa League by Liverpool on Thursday having salvaged an FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham last weekend and there is a growing frustration among the club’s fanbase with the direction of the team under the experienced Dutchman.
Jose Mourinho has been persistently linked to Van Gaal’s post, but Pellegrini, whose City side are attempting to arrest a slump of one win in five league games, is expecting a stern test from a focused United outfit.
“I don’t think that we can take advantage of [discontent at United],” he said. “I don’t know what happens with Manchester United.
“It is not my duty to know what happens with their fans or with Van Gaal. I think we are going to play against a strong team with a lot of history and they will do all that they can to win that game.
“We must not be trusting in those kind of things and try to have a good performance to win the game on the pitch.
“It’s a game of six points and you can have an important difference but, after this, we play for 21 points more and you can never know what will happen.”
Pellegrini explained he was inclined to feel sympathy for Van Gaal or any manager under pressure but feels the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is well equipped to ride out the inevitable pressures of his post.
“I think Louis van Gaal has a lot of experience,” the Chilean, who led Real Madrid in 2009-10, added. “When you manage big teams you cannot expect not to receive criticism when you don’t win.
“So I think he has the experience to manage that situation. When you see a manager in a bad moment – and I am not just talking about Louis van Gaal – as a manager you want to support him.
“But I don’t think that he has any problems, with the experience that he has and the big teams that he has managed through his whole career. He is not maybe in a good moment, but he knows how to manage.”