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Manchester City boss Pellegrini on Hull City win: “We must improve”

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Manchester City beat newly promoted Hull 2-0 at the Etihad in Saturday’s early kick off, but boy they made hard work of it.

Half time substitute Alvaro Negredo finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute with his second goal in as many games, while captain Yaya Toure curled in a beautiful free kick in the games final minute to seal the win.

However the 2-0 scoreline didn’t reflect how Hull had played for the opening 60 minutes as the Tigers had three glorious chances to open the scoring in the first half. They also thwarted City with reoslute defending and Steve Bruce will be disappointed that his team couldn’t snatch a point.

(MORE: Manchester City 2-0 Hull City; Negredo and Toure goals seal hard-fought win)

Despite the win, Manchester City’s Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his side have to do better.

“First of all, the most important thing was the points,” Pellegrini said. “In pre-season we tried to work on different things, we experimented – when we play in the Premier League, think more about the three points, so I am very pleased to win. We must improve though, we had many difficulties in the first-half.”

Pellegrini thought a hangover from City’s shock defeat to Cardiff last Sunday affected his players but was nonetheless pleased with a second-straight shutout at home.

“The defeat against Cardiff could be one of the things that affected us, in the first-half we were without trust but I think the other important thing after the three points is the defense – again at home we have a clean sheet – that’s very pleasing.”

But after a solid defensive display Pellegrini also acknowledged that his side will face plenty more games like this, as teams sit in at the Etihad and defend for their lives.

“Hull is a good team, I was concerned that we failed to break them down in the first-half but 2-0 is a good scoreline – we can’t win every game four or five nil, that’s a good thing about the Premier League.”

However Pellegrini will be happy that his team have won two from three heading into the international break. A solid beginning to his tenure at the Etihad, but his team must improve.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.