Manuel Pellegrini has insisted it is "impossible" for Manchester City to win silverware every season -- especially this year, partly because other clubs have have greater buying power.
City won the Capital One Cup and the Premier League in Pellegrini's first campaign in charge at the Etihad Stadium but are set to finish empty-handed in May after failing to defend their titles.
But Pellegrini claims that City are the only club the media expects to win the league every season and believes five teams are equally strong as he pointed out Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers out-spent him last summer.
"I appreciate that you think the only team that must win the title is City," he said. "We cannot win trophies every year. It is impossible especially in this year."
City were limited to a £49 million net spend by UEFA as part of their punishment for failing Financial Fair Play, while United invested £152 million in new players.
"This year Arsenal spend more money, Chelsea spend more money, United spend more money, Liverpool more money and have very strong squads," Pellegrini added. "You have another five teams that are as strong as your team."
Pellegrini believes the media are placing unrealistic expectations on his team and feels that a top-three finish is not a disaster.
"When you think the only team that must win the title is our team, I don't agree with that," he said. "Of course I want to win the title, but if for some reason we don't finish second I don't think it is a shame. If we finish in seventh place without Europe I understand. But when we are the whole season 34 games and always second, I don't think that is the same criticism."
City have gone out of the Champions League to Barcelona in successive seasons but Pellegrini argued that they do not have as good a squad as the La Liga leaders.
"I don't think that we are better than Barcelona," he said. "You think we must be frustrated because we are eliminated by Messi, Neymar, [Luis] Suarez, [Andres] Iniesta, [Sergio] Busquets."