Manuel Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini is unlikely to remain in charge at Manchester City beyond the end of the seasonGetty Images

Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender, has criticised Manchester City's mentality after they crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace.

Despite the visitors monopolising possession at Selhurst Park, goals from Glenn Murray and Jason Puncheon either side of half-time condemned reeling City to a fourth consecutive away loss that leaves them fourth in the Premier League and nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Such a wretched run suffered at the most critical point of the season and the failure of several recent signings to make a consistent impact has led many to speculate that manager Manuel Pellegrini will be sacked this summer, and Neville has clearly identified a key issue that will need to be immediately resolved regardless of who is in the dugout.

"They have got a mentality problem, there is no doubt about that. This team cannot sustain success, and I think that is a terrible thing to have levelled at you," he said in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports.

"When you win championships you have got to be able to come back again with hunger and they do not. They drop off it. They get to the top of the mountain and drop off it. Ultimately they couldn't break a resolute, resilient defence down against Crystal Palace. Chelsea had that problem last season many times, it cost them the league."

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has been mooted in some quarters as a potential replacement for Pellegrini. The Italian guided Chelsea to the double in 2010 before being relieved of his duties the following year and also ended his current club's agonising wait for their tenth European Cup success in his first campaign in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But while speculation as to the identity of his successor continues to circulate, a defiant Pellegrini seems insistent that he is not worried about his job security.

"I'm not concerned about my job," he said. "That is one thing I am never concerned with. I never have fear about it, I do my work, I'm very happy. The team maybe have a difficult season but never worry about me. We are not thinking about Chelsea, or about the title. We are just trying to win our games."

Manchester City's next game sees them make the short journey to Old Trafford for a derby clash against Manchester United on 12 April.

City won the reverse fixture 1-0 in November 2014 courtesy of a goal from Sergio Aguero after Chris Smalling had been dismissed, but manager Louis van Gaal's side are in excellent form at present and their last top-flight win, a comfortable 3-1 triumph over relegation-threatened Aston Villa, was their fifth in succession.