I was at Manuel Pellegrini's press conference ahead of Monday's game against Liverpool earlier today. Plenty a topics were covered, with a summary below. The press conference in full should now also be up on the official YouTube channel.
The first question was about Edin Dzeko and if there was any reason for his turnaround (which has seen him sign an extended contract this week). Pellegrini said he was a 'very important player for the squad' but it was interesting that he felt a change has been in his (Dzeko's) mindset that he is now not playing just to score but for '90 or 95 minutes' but worked on his all-round game.
Pellegrini stated that the squad has worked hard and well this week. Although it has been difficult with players still at different stages of fitness due to the World Cup he has been pleased. He repeated more than once that last season had nothing to do with this game ('a different game, different moment'). It was difficult to say if Liverpool are weaker or stronger sans Suarez as they will miss him but have added other players.
He has watched their game against Southampton and of course on the summer tour to the US so he feels that he knows their game. He declined to say if Liverpool would be affected by last season's title collapse but for City 'last season is finished.'
Of course, the name of Mario Balotelli cropped up with a fair few questions on his views of the transfer, what he is like and would he like to manage him. Unsurprisingly Pellegrini played a straight bat to all questions. He accepted he was a 'very good player' and that he 'wasn't surprised' by any move to Liverpool. On his character, Pellegrini would not be drawn, simply saying that he wasn't in charge of City during Balotelli's time at the club and it wasn't his 'duty to analyse when he was here.'
Injuries and the squad
Alvaro Negredo aside the squad is fit although some players are not yet fully ready to play. Eliaquim Mangala and Frank Lampard are training but not ready for selection and Sergio Aguero still needs more time. Both Pablo Zabaleta and Fernandinho will come into contention despite not having played so far.
In terms of the Champions League there has been no decision on which player(s) may miss out but conceded that it could be Negredo depending upon his injury.
Very little to report here. There was 'no news' according to Pellegrini although there was always a chance to deal until the last day. He wouldn't be drawn on the futures of either Negredo or Matija Nastasic, both of whom have been heavily linked with moves away, saying 'when rumours end I will talk.'