Pellegrini says: “At the start of February, there was news about a change of the manager, about players who will not continue here next season, about a lot of things involved in the minds of all the players.
“It’s not easy for the players when you read in newspapers all things that will happen next season, all the players who will go out, all the players that will come in. It’s not easy for the players to focus their mind.
“We were involved in all the competitions, in the Champions League, we won the [League] Cup, we were forced to leave the FA Cup, and we were three points behind the leaders.”
Pellegrini put the change in form down to the players’ increased concentration levels ahead of their trip to relegation-threatened Newcastle tonight (8.45pm).