Manuel Pellegrini is disappointed by Manchester City's collapse in form but insists it is too soon to label their season a failure.
Home defeats to title-chasing Leicester City and Tottenham in February began a sequence of one win in six Premier League matches to all but end City's hopes of a third English title in five seasons.
Amid this slump, Pellegrini's men overcame Dynamo Kiev to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time and won the League Cup thanks to a penalty shootout victory over Liverpool.
Despite a dispiriting 1-0 derby loss to Manchester United before the international break that leaves City's top-four place in jeopardy, Pellegrini believes his men still have plenty to play for at home and abroad heading into Saturday's match at AFC Bournemouth.
"We're disappointed because one month ago we were involved in all the competitions, just three points behind the leaders," the Chilean told a pre-match news conference.
"We have to play another eight games – it's not in this moment a bad season, we won a title, we're still in the Champions League.
"We were forced to leave the FA Cup [Pellegrini selected a weakened team for a 5-1 fifth-round loss to Chelsea] because we had so many games and unfortunately we had a bad performance in the last game. It's not the time to analyse the season.
"It's not just United and West Ham [challenging for the top four]. Liverpool have two games less. Southampton… when you have 24 to 27 points to play for, I think that a lot of things can happen.
"All the teams are involved and have a mathematical chance and that’s also the case with teams in front of us.
"It's my mentality - we take each game as it comes and try to finish as high up the table as we can."
Bournemouth are one of the division's form sides, with their return of 28 points since December 1 only bettered by Leicester and Tottenham during the same period.
Pellegrini believes Eddie Howe's men have benefitted from trusting their attacking instincts following a 5-1 loss at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season.
"Bournemouth have made a good season," he added. "From the beginning they were a team that played very well.
"Maybe in the first few games there were doubts about the way they should play but since they've returned to the way they played to get promoted."
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