Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has defended his decision to deploy a much-changed starting line-up during the 5-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday (21 February) despite the defeat that led them out of the FA Cup. The Chilean boss said that with six players injured for the game he could not take any more risk with key players ahead of a crucial week, with a Champions League trip to Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday before the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool on weekend.
The Chilean boss announced before the game that he was going to rotate his squad after expressing his frustration by the scheduling of the game with Chelsea on Sunday – rather than Saturday. He therefore deployed an inexperienced line-up with five full debutants, in Tosin Adarabioyo, Aleix Garcia, Manu Garcia, Bersant Celina and David Faupala.
"Unfortunately for us, we couldn't play another game and we couldn't have more players fit for this game so we knew it was a very difficult chance to continue in the FA Cup but because the game was played today we couldn't progress," the boss explained after the game.
"If we play on Saturday it's better for us because we have to play for England in the Champions League on Wednesday so it's better for England. The second thing is that we have six players injured and we don't have more than 13 players so we could not take the risk to continue having injuries to the players that we have. After that, we came up against a very good team."
Pellegrini, nevertheless, praised his side for the impressive first 45 minutes of the game, as Faupala scored an equaliser to give his side some hope before being trashed in the second half. "We played a very good 45 minutes in which we equalised the game. After that we threw away the game in five minutes by conceding two goals too easily," Pellegrini said.
"The first one we were attacking and conceded a counter-attack and then a set-piece. Of course, then they played well and scored more goals."