MANCHESTER CITY manager Manuel Pellegrini has insisted his side's season is "not a disaster".

City's Barclays Premier League title defence appears to be in ruins after the champions crashed to yet another defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday.

The loss left them fourth in the table, trailing leaders Chelsea by nine points and having played a game more.

Since drawing level with the Londoners at the top on New Year's Day, Pellegrini's men have won just four of their 11 league games.

The pressure is now on ahead of Sunday's derby trip to rivals Manchester United - who have nipped ahead of them into third - but Pellegrini has no intention of playing safe in an attempt to stop the rot.

The Chilean, speaking at his pre-match press conference, said: "Never is to draw a good result. I understand we are not having the results that we need playing away - 2015 is not a good year for us - but before that we were the best team playing away.

"We have lost the last three (away) games, but the last two with two goals in set-pieces, against Burnley and Palace.

"We hope we continue keeping the good things we are doing because we are not a disaster, we're not a mess. We are doing a lot of things well.

"We must improve because we are not having the results we need but never in my way of thinking are we happy with a draw."

City have won the last four Manchester derby clashes and could break new ground by winning the next this weekend.

City have never won five derbies in succession before and nor has any side in Premier League history beaten United on five consecutive occasions.

That could provide extra motivation for City and Pellegrini feels the club are still feeding off former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's "noisy neighbours" jibe of several years ago.

Pellegrini said: "I think the first motivation is always to win. After that motivation is (comes from) against whom you are going to (try to) win, being a derby against a strong team like Manchester United.

"They dominated the league for so many years but one time Sir Alex Ferguson said the neighbours are disturbing them a little bit more - so I say that's double motivation for us."

City's form has led to an increase in speculation over Pellegrini's future but the 61-year-old is showing no sign that the pressure is getting to him and maintains that his squad remains a strong and united unit.

The former Real Madrid boss said: "I am not talking about my future because it is not important. I am just thinking about the game against Manchester United.

"I feel everyone supports me at the club, the players. I see the team playing.

"I just said we have to improve because we are not winning, but we are the most attacking team, the team that has most possession of the ball, we don't concede many goals. I think the players are happy in the way we work and the way we play.

"I don't see any problems inside the club but you never know what will happen in August and at the end of the season.

"If you ask me, I am not afraid because I think we are in the correct way but (just) a bad moment."

City captain Vincent Kompany is doubtful for the clash at Old Trafford after feeling his hamstring tightening at Selhurst Park.

Pellegrini is hopeful the influential defender will pull through but he will undergo a fitness test.

Pellegrini said: "We will see tomorrow if he can play or not. It is always better to play with Kompany but if, for different reasons, he cannot play not we have a squad and he must be replaced."

Strikers Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetic have been ruled out and defender Dedryck Boyata is also unavailable because of injuries.

Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal is dreaming of recording his first Manchester derby win. Dutchman van Gaal lost in his first meeting with Manchester City last November when Sergio Aguero scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Blues.

That was Manchester United's fourth successive loss to their neighbours, and van Gaal is determined to avoid another reverse at Old Trafford.

"I dream of it, every player shall dream of the victory," the United boss said in a press conference at Carrington.

Bragging rights are not the only thing at stake this weekend.

Victory would strengthen United's grip on third place as they would then be four points clear of their 'noisy neighbours'.

A third-placed finish would guarantee direct entry into the Champions League and that is what van Gaal is aiming for.

"You want to win because it is a big step in the table also," he said.

"When you win, third place is then reachable and a month ago nobody was thinking about that, besides me, of course.

"Third is good because you are certainly qualified for the Champions League and then we do better than the goal that was set in pre-season."