Manchester City's Focus Is Already on Barcelona and Chelsea, Not Watford

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIJanuary 24, 2014


Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini could be forgiven for tiring of hearing about his team's chance to pull off the quadruple. As is his custom, though, whenever you think Pellegrini will zig, he zags.

"I’m very happy. I’m very proud of the fact that we are the only team still in the four competitions so we are the only team who can still do it," Pellegrini told Darren Lewis of the Mirror.

Yes, City are going to be overwhelming favorites over Sunderland in the Capital One Cup Final. City are also heavily favored to dispatch Watford in their coming fourth-round FA Cup encounter.

Lost in the breathless speculation about the possible quadruple, though, is a realistic view of what must really matter to Pellegrini.

And it is not the Capital One Cup. Or the FA Cup.

Naturally, City would be happy enough to win either of those trophies. However, those prizes are probably not what City chief executive Ferran Soriano was referring to when he blithely suggested to Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail that a reasonable goal for Pellegrini at City would be "five trophies in the next five years."

City's upcoming schedule brings that reality into sharp focus.

After Watford, City face back-to-back season-defining Premier League fixtures at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur and at home to title contender Chelsea. Each of those matches will be rich with backstory.

Spurs are surely still smarting from the abject beating they received at the Etihad in November. City cannot possibly forget the points they handed to Jose Mourinho's team at Stamford Bridge in October.

However those matches turn out for City, Lionel Messi and Barcelona are coming to the Etihad 15 days after Chelsea's visit to open City's first ever pursuit of a Champions League trophy in the knockout round.

Pellegrini needs the ball to bounce his way against the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona. Less so against Watford in the FA Cup.
Pellegrini needs the ball to bounce his way against the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona. Less so against Watford in the FA Cup.Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Pellegrini cannot openly discount the importance of the match at hand against Watford. Fortunately for him, he does not have to. The squad rotation decisions he makes say everything he cannot.

Will Alvaro Negredo (23 goals in 33 appearances this season) play against Watford? No. 

"We will see in the next days how his shoulder reacts from the work he is doing. Maybe in one week he will be OK. The first opinion [is that], yes, it is a small injury. He is not ready for Watford," Pellegrini told Richard Jolly of

How about David Silva? Again, not so much. "David Silva has some problems. He is not 100 percent fit. It is just a precaution -- we will not take any risks. He has some pain in his hamstring, but nothing important," Pellegrini said.

Be honest. Do you think either Negredo or Silva would be sitting Saturday if it were Chelsea or Barcelona at the Etihad and not Watford? No chance.

This is because, quadruple hopes or not, City's results in the Premier League and Champions League will be the only valid measure of City's success or failure as a club this season.