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Sunday 22 October 2017

No excuses for Euro group failure say City

Manuel Pellegrini. Photo: PA
Manuel Pellegrini. Photo: PA

MANCHESTER CITY'S director of football Txiki Begiristain admits there will be no excuses if the club fail to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League this season.

City have to face holders Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow as well as Viktoria Plzen from the Czech Republic, but the onus is on manager Manuel Pellegrini to achieve something his predecessor Roberto Mancini did not manage – to take the club into the knockout rounds.

Begiristain said Manchester City will have to show a fighting spirit.

He said: "You can never make excuses – in football, never.

"It won't be easy, but we have to fight. The champions Bayern are there, we also need to be careful with CSKA Moscow and also Plzen. We have to be careful with all of them."

Asked about the importance of going one better than the previous two seasons and making it to the knockout rounds, he added: "It's very important.

"When you start the season, you have to always think you will do better than the last one.

"We have to fight for the Premier League as we love this competition. We have to do better also in the Champions League.

"There's no minimum target. We are big club, with big players and with a manager with big experience.

SQUAD

"We are very, very happy with our squad. We have a minimum of two very good players in each position, so it's deep enough."

Chelsea have the easiest draw on paper and chief executive Ron Gourlay said the club would be boosted by Jose Mourinho's return as manager. He said: "Jose has come back to continue the evolution of the football club. Jose went on to be very successful after he left and Chelsea continued to be too, so we are now looking to continue that evolution.

"We have a very, very young squad of players now and that's very important for the next five or six years."

Meanwhile, City defender Joleon Lescott is keen to stay at the Etihad Stadium and secure a new contract. Lescott said: "I've expressed a number of times that nothing more would please me than to sign an extension."

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