LONDON (AFP) – Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame the continued absence of Yaya Toure for his team’s collapse in 2015 following their 1-1 home draw with relegation-threatened Hull City.
The defending Premier League champions are now seven points behind leaders Chelsea, have exited the FA Cup at home to Championship side Middlesbrough, and have gone four games without a league win — their worst such run in over five years.
All this has happened while the inspirational Toure has been at the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, who face Ghana in Sunday’s final.
The hulking 31-year-old midfielder is not expected to be available for Wednesday’s trip to Stoke City, but Pellegrini is adamant that City can prosper without him.
“I always have the same answer — you can’t have any doubt how important Yaya Toure is for us,” he said. “But we feel that every game without Yaya we could win. It is not just about one player.
“We must be a creative team and we must play faster in the last 25 metres against teams who defend with men behind the ball. I think there is more of a problem than one individual player.”
On Chelsea’s advantage, he added: “We’re not thinking about it. We’re not concerned about the gap.”