LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says the faltering Premier League side's season is far from a "disaster", but his 100th game in charge is unlikely to be a celebratory occasion after he conceded defeat in the title race on Friday.
City host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday in the Chilean's centenary match, but with six points separating his side from leaders Chelsea, who have the added cushion of a game in hand, the mood at the Etihad stadium is sombre.
On the back of Wednesday's Champions League exit to Barcelona for the second season in a row, City have a mountain to climb if they are to overhaul Jose Mourinho's side and successfully defend their title.
"This year I don't think it is possible to do it, but it is possible to fight until the end," Pellegrini told reporters.
With media reports suggesting he now faces a battle to save his job, Pellegrini sought to strike an upbeat tone, but results since the New Year have been poor.
City have lost four of their last five games in all competitions and collected 15 points from a possible 30 in 2015.
Had the league started on Jan. 1, they would be 10th in the table, one place and one point behind West Brom.
That run has brought them back into a battle for a top-four finish with fifth-placed Liverpool now four points behind with nine games to play.
"It is not a disaster," Pellegrini added. "Only Chelsea have been better. We will keep on fighting."
City's sudden demise has intensified speculation that the club's big-spending owners will dispense with Pellegrini at the end of the campaign.
Pressure, he says, is part of the job and so are elevated expectations, but he insists he is still enjoying his time at the Etihad Stadium.
"Every manager, when they have not been winning, is under pressure," he said.
"It has happened with Liverpool, Arsenal, now me. In Spain the same has happened with Carlo Ancelotti and he has won four titles.
"I have just played Barcelona in the Champions League, now we are fighting for the best league in the world. If you do not enjoy it, you should see a doctor."
City will be without Yaya Toure for Saturday's game after he picked up an Achilles problem, while Aleksandar Kolarov and James Milner are both injury doubts.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond)