London: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini played down the significance of his side's midweek trip to Abu Dhabi after they were humbled 2-0 at home by Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
The Premier League champions, FA Cup finalists in two of the past four seasons, were well beaten on Saturday by a Middlesbrough side currently second in the division below them. City decided to take the seven-hour return flight from the Middle East on Friday and the squad were pictured leaving Manchester Airport at 2000 GMT, just 19 hours before kick-off against Middlesbrough.
But Pellegrini refused to accept that the training camp in UAE, where City's super-rich owners are based, had had any bearing on the result. "I don't think so. I don't agree," the Chilean told journalists at the Etihad Stadium.
"You can have your opinion, but I have a different opinion because we had six or seven clear chances to score a goal. I repeat, you can have different reasons for a result. You must analyse the game, but if you think that's the reason, I have a different opinion about that," added Pellegrini.