Manuel Pellegrini has insisted it is too early to write off Manchester City's chances of retaining the Premier League title after their 2-1 defeat at West Ham United.
Saturday's loss at Upton Park was City's second league defeat of the season and meant they missed out on the chance to reduce what was Chelsea's five-point advantage at the top of the table ahead of the leaders' match at Manchester United on Sunday.
City's reverse in east London capped a bad week for Pellegrini's side, who days earlier had squandered a two-goal lead in a draw away to CSKA Moscow that left their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League in the balance.
But City manager Pellegrini insisted his men were unfortunate to lose at West Ham and denied he was feeling any extra pressure after an inconsistent start to the campaign.
"We are just starting the season, we have 80 points left to play for. So it is early. We will continue fighting because there is no title being handed out at the moment," Pellegrini said.
"We always try to start as best as we can but you can't always do that. We have a point more than we had after nine games last season."
The Chilean added: "I feel pressure exactly the first game as this one. The pressure I put on myself is the most important thing for me.
"We are continuing to have a chance in the Champions League so we are not leaving any important things. We just had a really undeserved defeat today," said Pellegrini before his side were leapfrogged into second place by in-form Southampton's win over Stoke.
West Ham secured a first-half lead through Morgan Amaltifano before Diafra Sakho scored for a sixth successive league game midway through the second period.
David Silva reduced the Hammers' lead but Pellegrini's side paid the price for a host of missed opportunities, with Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure both hitting the woodwork.
"In the first half we did not play with enough intensity, I thought they would be more tired in the second half and we would be able to move the ball easier which we did but in the end we couldn't take our chances," Pellegrini said.
"I don't think it was a fault of our team for the performance in the first half, it was more about the intensity of West Ham and you must credit them for that."
- Outstanding Song -
This result saw West Ham remain fourth in the table -- a position few would have forecast for them before the season started.
Hammers manager Sam Allardyce praised the work of forward pair Sakho and Enner Valencia and well as midfielder Alex Song, three of the club's pre-season signings.
"Song has been in the shadow a little bit because of Valenica and Sakho but this lad has outstanding quality.
"He goes along the style of Fernando Hierro and Jay Jay Okocha who I had in my teams before," added former Bolton manager Allardyce.
"His passing and also his protection of the back players is excellent.
"When you've got quality players, quality players look forward to the big games when the players of lesser quality get a bit anxious and think 'oh look who I'm playing against today'.
"But Songy's led us as a team today and the rest of the lads have responded to that."
Allardyce, who recently celebrated his 60th birthday, added: "I don't think Valencia and Sakho really know what they have done yet. I don't think they really know how good they've been.
"They've just come here, they want to play football and I don't think they realise what such a big impact they have made.
"But also, the players that have stayed with me for the last two or three years are playing much better as well."