Manuel Pellegrini has praised Sergio Aguero after he helped Manchester City finally pick up their first Premier League away win of the season. The Argentinian striker scored twice, either side of half-time, and then set up David Silva for a late goal as City moved up to fourth with a 3-1 victory at West Ham United.
The 2011/12 champions had gone into the game looking to throw off the Jekyll and Hyde image they had earned this campaign, after just one point in three previous matches outside Manchester. And after Aguero's heroics ended their away hoodoo, Pellegrini is hopeful they can now build on that success.
"One point from nine is not a good average and before we started the game, Chelsea and Arsenal had both won their matches, so it was important not to lose any more points," said the former Malaga coach. "I'm very pleased.
"The most important thing was to win, but we continued to play the same way as we have been. I told the players to have patience and keep moving the ball. I think we did it very well and deserved our victory.
"Sergio is a top player who makes an important difference. He didn't play the second game with Argentina in midweek, so he was fresh."
Pellegrini took a gamble by naming a completely new back four, with Javi Garcia partnering Matija Nastasic in central defence, but in truth, they were never really tested by a West Ham side who once again lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Mohamed Diame in the false No9 role.
Aguero had already put the visitors 2-0 ahead with two excellent finishes by the time Sam Allardyce's side came alive when Ricardo Vaz Te pulled a goal back with an overhead kick in the 57th minute. Yet the Hammers' lack of a striker to lead the line meant that all too often their pressure down the flanks ended with no-one on the end of crosses.
City continued to look dangerous throughout and only a string of superb saves from Jussi Jaaskelainen prevented them from wrapping up the points earlier. Their third goal eventually came ten minutes from time, when Aguero unselfishly back-heeled the ball into Silva's path and he curled home.
Now, with a trip to face CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night, Pellegrini is confident he has a big enough squad to challenge on all fronts.
"I trust all the players," he said. "That's why at the beginning of the season I spoke with the owners and said I wanted a squad with two players for each position, because we have a lot of matches and we need to have the same quality."
Allardyce acknowledges City class
For Allardyce, it was back to the drawing board after his tactical triumph in the 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in his side's last outing. The West Ham manager acknowledged that his striker-free system had failed to fire this time, and also admitted that his team struggled to recover from two defensive mistakes.
"We didn't look anything like we did at Tottenham," he said. "Our attacking was limited to a 20-minute spell after they were 2-0 up, but it was too late. Man City were better than we were and to get a result against them you need to play your best.
"They frightened us a little bit with the passing between Aguero and Yaya Toure, but we made two basic errors for their first two goals. We gave it a go and I'm at least pleased with the response the lads showed."