Under-fire Manchester City boss Pellegrini admits Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that the side’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are in serious doubt after their Old Trafford derby humiliation against Manchester United.

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Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham are all waiting for the Citizens to slip up in their forthcoming games to capitalise and sneak into fourth spot, with Saints and Spurs still having the current champions to play.

To simply be entertaining this debate represents a colossal collapse in Manchester City’s fortunes compared to this time last season when they narrowly pipped Liverpool to the Premier League title.

Manchester United ensured that the city was once again red after their first derby win in four years, taking them four points above their rivals.

Despite a 100th Manchester City goal from Sergio Aguero, there was no celebration from the blue half of the city and Pellegrini was quoted in The Mirror saying, “It is very difficult to be in fourth place. We have difficult teams in the Premier League. We have just four points behind United, five points with Arsenal.

“We must fight until the end of the season. For the club, for me, for the players it is very important to be in a position for the Champions League. We have six games more to try to do it. We had been in second place all season. We have six games to go.”

Following the derby defeat, City have now recorded five defeats in 2015 – one more than during the entire previous year. Pellegrini, who is fighting to keep his job, has seen his side enter their worst run for nine years with just four wins in 15 games.

The Chilean believes Manchester United deserved their victory today and his side’s collapse after 20 minutes was disappointing, “I think they were the best team. We started very well and in the first 20 minutes we could have controlled the game. After the second goal we lost the way we were playing and United scored more goals.

“I don’t understand why a team only plays so well in the first 20 minutes. We dominated, created chances, we had the ball. At 1-1 United started growing and their third goal gave them the confidence they did not have before.

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