Manuel Pellegrini wants Manchester City to be even better during the second half of the season as he aims to make the club the dominant force in English football. The manager also insisted that Sergio Agüero would not be rushed back from injury.
City travel to Swansea City for the early kick-off on New Year's Day with Pellegrini demanding more from his side though he accepts this is difficult given the form so far that has them trailing Arsenal by only a point.
"We will continue to learn," said the Chilean. "It's very important for all the players always to be improving. It must be better, the second half, than the first. But then the first half was already very good so I don't know. It is normal to improve though."
This is Pellegrini's first season in English football and the Chilean cannot quite believe how quickly it has passed. "The time has gone fast. Six months is a lot of time but it has felt very short for me. I'm learning each day but after six months I am very settled in England, I am very happy, I am at a very good club. I work with the team. I always feel that the first months are the most difficult in a new job. So to be in the position we are in now is a very good start for us."
Asked when Agüero was likely to return from the calf injury suffered against Arsenal on 14 December, Pellegrini said: "It's difficult to know when. It depends on his recovery and how he improves. I still can't say when."
The Argentina striker, whose 19 goals in 20 games make him the campaign's standout performer alongside Luis Suárez, will not be rushed back despite his importance to the side. "We will try to make him have a full recovery before he is back. It's very important."
Pellegrini is hopeful that once Stevan Jovetic recovers from a hamstring problem he can finally be available regularly. The Montenegro forward is enduring an injury-cursed start to his City career since his summer arrival for £22m. Pellegrini is puzzled why Jovetic has had such bad luck. "It is difficult to know," he said. "I hope this will be the last one and he can start playing. He is an important player."
The manager does not think Jovetic's problem is psychological. "I can't say that, no. I always believe that a player cannot do it unless he feels he can do it," Pellegrini said. "I will support the players. I believe in the players and I believe in Jovetic. He has had very bad luck for the first half of the year and I hope the second half will be very good for him. He is trying to do everything."