Manchester City fell to a damaging 4-2 Premier League defeat at St Mary’s from which their boss could take few positives.

Manuel Pellegrini issued a damning indictment of his Manchester City players – insisting there was ‘nothing’ positive he could take from their mauling at Southampton.

The Chilean was clearly furious with his team following the 4-2 defeat at St Mary’s – but suggested the result would have been different if the Premier League had not blocked their bid to have the game brought forward 24 hours.

City made eight changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Real Madrid on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg, with a view to next week’s return fixture at the Bernabeu.

And Pellegrini insists he would do the same again – despite seeing Southampton blow his team away.

“We knew before the game it was a risk to put so many players without football against a difficult team, but have to take those risks because we have an important game on Wednesday,” he said.

“Maybe if we had played on Saturday we could put more players in, but it was a risk.

“I would do exactly the same again because we have an important game on Wednesday that we play now for the final in the Champions League. We continue in the Premier League what we are going to do in the next two games to be in the top four so that was a risk, but one we also had to take.”

Pellegrini failed to even mention Kelechi Iheanacho’s double when assessing a miserable day on the south coast that dented City’s hopes of securing a top four finish.

The Nigerian striker staked a claim to starting against Real Madrid on Wednesday with goals in each half.

But asked if there were any positives from the day, Pellegrini responded: “Nothing.”

He added: “I’m very disappointed especially in the defending because we were doing well in the other games.

“It was the same players who played the other games.”

Asked if Iheanacho had convinced him he was ready to start against Real, Pellegrini added: “Kelechi today scored two goals and is doing well in all the games, but for the moment I am not thinking about that.”

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