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Manuel Pellegrini has slammed suggestions that he does not care if Manchester City finish in the top four this season.
City currently sit fourth in the Premier League four points clear of Manchester United but they have played a game more than their rivals and face a tough game against Arsenal on Sunday.
Pellegrini will leave City in the summer to make way for Pep Guardiola and his decision to rest key players for last weekend's heavy defeat at Southampton prompted claims that he is not interested in finishing in the top four.
But he insists that is not the case and has vowed to try and lift his players after their Champions League semi-final exit to Real Madrid.
"I think it’s very important to reach the Champions League. I am finishing my contract here but of course I’m worried about that [not qualifying] because I want to finish the season in the best way," Pellegrini told his pre-match press conference.
"I think we deserve to be in the Champions League because we’ve spent the whole season, from beginning to end, in the top four positions.
"Also because I think we deserve to be in the Champions League next year. The whole season we have been in the Champions League spots from the beginning to the end.
"Continuing to the semi-final it is not easy to have your mind on both competitions. We did it except in the game against Southampton. All the other games we did it. If I was just worried about the Champions League I would have changed every important player for the Premier League games.
"Except for the last game, because it was so important to make the final, all the other Premier League games we put out our strongest teams. Of the last 5 games we lost just won, so I’m absolutely interested that this team continues in the Champions League next year."