The Argentina international believes that the club are capable of competing for major honours under their new manager and speaks of his affection for the supportersEXCLUSIVE
By Diego Morini
Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has praised new manager Manuel Pellegrini and believes that the club can achieve "great things" under the Chilean coach.
The former Real Madrid and Malaga boss replaced Roberto Mancini at the Etihad Stadium in the summer and has made an encouraging start to the season, with his side having secured their maiden qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.
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He told Goal: "For Pellegrini this is a new experience. He comes after several years in Spain and has been very good wherever he has been. He has the capacity to take this squad to achieve great things.
"It all takes time to adapt but he always asks us to go out and play. He believes in a style that adds technical inside-midfield players that have the ability to keep the ball and then try to attack out wide.
"He keeps the philosophy of his previous teams where he was always successful. It's good that he wants to propose it because we have the players to do it."
The City right-back believes that former boss Mancini arrived at a difficult time when the club were looking to build a squad capable of achieving long-term success but argues that the Italian did a good job.
"Mancini came in a tough moment with everything starting to build up," he remarked. "He tried to form a compact and strong team to try to fight for titles. He was worried about the tactical discipline and it went fine for us.
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Zabaleta signed for City from Espanyol back in 2008 and insists that he never expected the club to receive the financial backing that has allowed them to be in the market for some of the world's top players.
He continued: "I never thought the club could become as important as it is now thanks to the financial injection. I enjoy being part of this club and we aim to keep on winning more things.
"I feel the affection of the fans, probably because I was one of those players from before the change [in financial resources].
"When I was in Spain, I always loved and wanted to play in the Premier League, live this experience. When I got here, the club was very different, it didn't have all the money to buy important players as it has now. Now we can try to go for the championship."