Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini claimed his side were "forced" to field such an under-strength team at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup on Sunday (City lost 5-1), given the fact they travel to play Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday and are troubled by injury.
"We are forced to do it," he said. "I think that if we play on Saturday it's better for us because we have to play for England in the Champions League."
Manuel Pellegrini is not surprised by the latest changes at former club Real Madrid but says he feels sorry for Rafa Benitez.
Spanish giants Real, notorious for their high coaching turnover, axed Benitez after just seven months in charge and installed Zinedine Zidane as his replacement.
The 62-year-old said of Real: "At least I finished the year! But I knew from the beginning I was not to continue for the next year. There were some important differences with the president.
"I am sorry about Rafa Benitez because I think he is a manager that deserves respect but it is not strange what has happened at Real Madrid in the last five or six years.
"Yes, (it is) absolutely different (at City). It is another way to think about the role of the manager. A lot of things are different.
"That is why one team is changing manager every year, and at this team it is not the policy of the owners to change immediately when you don't win a title. Different projects for each club."
"Always to manage a big team is very difficult, Real Madrid is a very difficult team. But it is more difficult in the way they manage the club than the position of the manager."
Manuel Pellegrini wants his Manchester City team to be in prime position to launch their title charge from February.
City are third in the Barclays Premier League at Christmas, six points behind leaders Leicester and four adrift of second-placed Arsenal.
The Chilean said: "I think it's very important to be involved, as we are now, at the end of January. If you can be leaders before then that is better, but I think you need to be there on the last day of January. Then, in the last three months, you can win the title."
City travel to Leicester on Tuesday for another big clash but must first negotiate Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day.
Pellegrini said: "We need to focus game by game. The next game is Sunderland and we must try to beat them here. That's never an easy game.
"Only after that do we think about Leicester. It's very important to win these two games to finish off the first round (of fixtures).
"We lost important points against Arsenal. I said before the game that it was a game of six points but it was not a decisive game. I repeat that you never win the title in December."
Manuel Pellegrini was pleased with Manchester City's win over Sunderland after successive defeats to Juventus and West HamRead the full story ›
Manchester City have thrown their Premier League title defence "into the garbage", according to boss Manuel Pellegrini.
City head into Sunday's Manchester derby fourth in the table, nine points off leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand.
The defending champions were level with José Mourinho's side at the start of 2015, but have since lost to Arsenal, Liverpool, Burnley and Crystal Palace in the league, as well as being eliminated from the FA Cup and the Champions League.
It has not been a good season. It was not so bad until the end of 2014, when we were top of the table and also had the FA Cup and Champions League.
But in the last three months we have thrown it into the garbage.
I think always for the fans it is important to finish as near to the top of the table as you can and that's what we must do.
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has warned his side they face a tough test when they travel to Crystal Palace on Monday.Read the full story ›
Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini has urged his side to pick themselves up from their Champions League misery and finish the season strongly.
City's season is now in danger of fizzling out after Barcelona ended their hopes of progressing in Europe with a formidable display at the Nou Camp.
Coming four days after a shock loss to Burnley left their Premier League title defence in tatters, City look set to end the season empty-handed and reflecting on under-achievement.
But Pellegrini insists the campaign is not yet over, and wants a strong response against West Brom on Saturday.
The Chilean, who is looking increasingly vulnerable in his position, said:
We must never give up. We are six points behind Chelsea, so it is difficult, but we still have nine games left. We must focus our minds.
It is a disappointment not to go through but we have just played the best team in the world.
QPR striker Charlie Austin has been crowned the Premier League player of the month for December, with Manuel Pellegrini clinching the managerial accolade.
Austin scored five goals for relegation threatened Rangers last month including a hat-trick against West Brom, while Pellegrini guided champions Man City to five consecutive victories before the 2-2 draw against Burnley.
Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed midfielder David Silva is nursing a ligament injury and will be out of action for three weeksRead the full story ›