Kelechi Iheanacho all but secured Manchester City a place in the Champions League (The Sun)
Manchester United will need to beat Bournemouth by at least 19 goals to leapfrog Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
MANUEL PELLEGRINI left Manchester City feeling he could hold his head high.
He left the club in fourth place and so guaranteeing another season in the Champions League.
For the third year in a row since taking over at the club, he left City above rivals Manchester United.
And after securing the point needed to finish in the top four, Pellegrini left South Wales without his jacket.
After some persuasion from a shirtless Yaya Toure, Pellegrini handed over the item of clothing to a delighted fan who must today be deciding whether to put the item on eBay to pay for a few European trips next season.
Pellegrini remembered to take out his wallet first and it is a shame Toure did not show more persistence in City’s midfield in what has been a particularly strange season at the Etihad.
Pellegrini spoke of his pride, emotion and relief at finishing fourth.
But, ultimately, like many of their away games this season, Pellegrini’s team were pretty ordinary. And that is why he is being replaced by Pep Guardiola.
Despite Pellegrini’s comments, finishing 15 points behind champions Leicester is no achievement. He should actually be ashamed.
Pell said: “I felt emotional because it was a special day. It was not easy to finish here, a club where I worked for several years.
“It was a difficult day but also relief as it was important to finish in the Champions League place.
“It was a good season because we won the Capital One Cup and we reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time.
“We qualified for the Champions League next season. We were the highest scoring team in the Premier League and we won most points against the big teams.”
As for his future, Pellegrini said: “I will start thinking about the future. I don’t want to decide in a week — I will see different options.”
Joe Hart gave a more realistic appraisal of City’s season.
The England keeper said: “It’s hard to be too positive after that but we got the job done if you class the job as finishing fourth.
“We know we’ve let ourselves down in the league this season. The beauty of football is we get another chance next year.”
City delivered a typically City performance. Decent in flashes, excellent in others. Although that was the first half.
Equally, there was an infuriating lack of urgency and you would not have thought that during a lethargic, unimpressive second half, a Champions League place was up for grabs.
Once again, typical City.
All it would have taken was for one moment of Swansea class or a trademark mistake in the City defence and that Manchester United match against Bournemouth would have been even more significant.
City were also lucky that Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin rested Euro 2016-bound quartet Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lukasz Fabianski. Ki Sung-Yueng is back in South Korea for national service.
Kelechi Iheanacho put City ahead inside five minutes. Sergio Aguero forced a decent save from Swedish keeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt after good work by Kevin De Bruyne.
The ball fell perfectly for Iheanacho, who calmly dispatched his 14th of the season.
Ref Mike Dean disallowed an effort at the other end when Jefferson Montero tangled with Bacary Sagna while bundling the ball in.
But Swansea did level in first-half injury time thanks to one of their opponents.
Striker Andre Ayew fired a free-kick at the City wall but it came off Fernando’s head to wrong-foot Hart.
City had a few half-chances but were far from convincing and Swansea deserved their point in what has also been a tough season.
Swansea boss Guidolin, who has taken the club from 18th to finish 12th, said: “It was not simple in January and now we have a comfortable finish and I am proud.
“It was a good performance against the best team in the Premier League for quality and a lot of big, big players. I am ready for next season.”
Here are five things we learnt from the Liberty Stadium.
Manuel Pellegrini can leave Manchester City with his head held high. Just about. To throw away a top-four place would have been embarrassing but his team – although playing with no urgency – did enough to get the point that will be enough.
Kelechi Iheanacho could score well over 20 goals for Pep Guardiola next season. To grab 14 in his breakthrough season – at the age of 19 – is a stunning achievement. His final goal of the season was simple enough but he was in the right place at the right time.
Raheem Sterling must be increasingly worried over his spot in the England team. He is certain to be included in tomorrow’s England squad for Euro 2016 but this second half of the season has seen him struggle. He was once again on the substitutes bench. The place where he is likely to be in Marseille on June 11.
Francesco Guidolin has suffered a tough start to life in South Wales and seemed certain to be heading through the exit door with Brendan Rodgers his replacement. But he has been rewarded with a two-year deal and he seems to have the backing of a number of the fans who kept singing his name in the first half – and towards the end of this dull game.
Guidolin also pulled off a good piece of man-management. Swansea’s Euro 2016-bound quartet Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lukasz Fabianski were all rested. The players will certainly have appreciated this.
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
SWANSEA: Nordfeldt 6, Rangel 7, Fernandez 7, Amat 7, Kingsley 7, Cork 7, Britton 6, Fer 7, Routledge 6 (Barrow 58, 6), Ayew 7, Montero 6 (Gomis 83, 5).
MAN CITY: Hart 6, Sagna 7, Otamendi 7, Mangala 6, Clichy 7, Fernandinho 7, Fernando 6, Navas 7, De Bruyne 8, Aguero 7 (Toure 90, 6), Iheanacho 7 (Nasri 72, 6).
STAR MAN: Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) 8.