HONG KONG - Mauricio Pellegrini has called upon his Manchester City players to treat the Barclays Asia Trophy as a key stepping stone to regaining the Barclays Premier League title they won in the 2011/12 campaign, saying, "the season starts now".
Pellegrini only began his job as Man City manager this month, but he is already spelling out the message that his side must hit the ground running when they take on South China in the Barclays Asia Trophy semi-finals on 24 July, as he explained in his only interview ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy.
"I speak with the players, and every day I say the same thing: 'You must think that the Premier League starts tomorrow so the daily work must be very, very hard every day," he told the Premier League. "It seems that 40 days are a lot of days before the start [of the season] but they are not so many days. Working hard every day we are going to arrive at the first official match in Premier League in our best moment, that's what we are trying to do every day with them."
City's players have thus been left with the clearest message that they are required to impress their new manager from the outset, beginning with their encounter with the Hong Kong First Division champions, closely followed, three days later, by what promises to be another testing fixture against Tottenham Hotspur or Sunderland at the Hong Kong Stadium. "Our target is to prepare the whole squad for the Premier League," said Pellegrini. "It's important always to win a trophy and to start winning of course is important and the Barclays Asia Trophy would be a good start."
The former Real Madrid and Malaga head coach who succeeded Roberto Mancini this summer also highlighted the importance of giving as many of his players as possible match time in the competitive environment of the Barclays Asia Trophy in order to prepare them for their opening match of the season, which kicks off on 19 August at home to Newcastle United.
"I'm not going to play just with one team and leave all the other players without minutes," the 59-year-old said. "We're going to play all the players in the pre-season matches, and if by doing that we can win, then perfect."