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Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City's Premier League campaign was undermined by the announcement in February that Pep Guardiola would take over as manager next season.
City confirmed their participation in next season's Champions League with a 1-1 draw at Swansea on Sunday, but Pellegrini says the club's decision to announce Guardiola as his replacement three months before the end of the season had a negative effect on the dressing-room.
"One of the most difficult things to finish this season was after they announced this club will change [manager] next season, was the atmosphere inside the team," the Chilean said.
"Of course it is not easy for a team when you are in that moment involved in all competitions, it is not easy for the players to read every day that ’11 players will go out, these are coming, these are finished’, that is why we are so proud of them, that they tried in the way they could, of course it is not easy to do it."
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart expressed disappointment at the team's failure to stay in the title race, after lying just three points behind leaders Leicester on 2 February, the day after City announced the appointment of Guardiola.
"At the start of the season, well into this season we were well in the title race, but we let ourselves down, we will take positives of a trophy and semi-final of the Champions League, which was history for our club and we have Champions League next year and we have to take that," he said.