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Mannuel Pellegrini's precious preseason work with Man City interrupted

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images

New Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had to leave his club's tour of South Africa early.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Manuel Pellegrini's already limited preseason work with Manchester City was inconveniently interrupted when the new coach left the tour of South Africa to attend to personal business in Chile.

In the short start he has had with City's evolving squad, he worked out he needed more of two things: Time and attacking players.

Three of the big four clubs in England have new coaches this year, but Pellegrini differs in that he's untested in the Premier League and that probably puts him behind Manchester United's David Moyes and Chelsea's returning Jose Mourinho, who both already have plenty of experience of the hustle and bustle of English football.

Manchester City's players have talked about a "drip-feed'' system in early trainings in South Africa, where Pellegrini's unfamiliar tactics, which were formed in Chile and mainly in Spain, are being passed on gradually.

"It's logical at the beginning there is a lot of detail, so the players are looking, saying `what is this one?''' Pellegrini said in an interview with the club website in South Africa. "But they work very, very hard with us. (I'm) not trying to give all my ideas in just one or two weeks.''

It appears the deposed English champions have much to do to be ready to host Newcastle in a month in their season-opener after losing both games in South Africa against teams that finished only sixth and 12th in the local league. City scored one goal in 180 minutes of football, through midfielder James Milner.

"We need strikers, attacking players,'' Pellegrini said.

City closed in on the signing of Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic to go with Spain international Alvaro Negredo, who joined on Friday from Sevilla. Both are forwards.

Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez exited for Italy and were "very important forwards and we need to replace them,'' Pellegrini said before the Negredo signing.

The 27-year-old Negredo became City's third new player in the offseason after Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho and Spain winger Jesus Navas. City did not initially give details of the length of contract or transfer fee for Negredo, but British media said he cost around 20 million pounds ($30 million).

Having started at City with a 2-0 loss to Supersport United, Pellegrini unexpectedly flew out of South Africa early Thursday to deal with undisclosed personal matters back home in Chile and wasn't present to watch his team go down 2-1 to AmaZulu, although he had already picked the team and planned the substitutions, assistant manager Brian Kidd said.

It's unclear how long Pellegrini will be away.

"Everybody missed the boss, his presence here,'' Kidd said following the AmaZulu loss in Durban. "The work the boss has been doing is first class.''

Goalkeeper Joe Hart said City hadn't made as much progress as hoped in South Africa, where the squad will remain for a little longer, soaking up the mild winter sunshine on the east coast before a two-game tour of Hong Kong next week when Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Navas and Negredo are expected to get some game time and boost the attacking options.

"We're getting to know the new staff and things. It'll all click soon,'' Hart said. "We'd like it to be soon. Obviously we're very disappointed with the tour results. Things will come good.''

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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